Difference Between Smart and Intelligent

Smart and intelligent are behavioral adjectives used to describe a person’s qualities. It is often found that both words seem to be interchangeable but that is untrue.


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He drives quite ________, but his brother drives really ________.

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I ______ a reply to my letter in the next few days.

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What is the term used to describe words that add meaning to sentences, but are not necessary to form a complete sentence?

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Which phrase is erroneous?

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What is the term used to describe words that substitute for nouns?

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Choose the correct word: I'm sorry, I didn't catch your __________.

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There is a difference between the meaning and use of the words.

Smart vs Intelligent

The difference between smart and intelligent is the origin of the two. While smartness is a quality that comes through learning and adopting the learned behavior, intelligence is an inborn quality and acquired trait.

Smart vs Intelligent 1

Smart is a learned behavior. It is a behavior that can be adopted over time.

Whereas, Intelligence is an inherent quality. People are born with it.

Being smart can be defined as an acquired aptitude that helps apply previously acquired information to a particular situation. Intelligence is having the aptitude to procure solutions in tough situations faster than others or having different qualities that augment the way your brain works.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonSmartIntelligent
DefinitionThe acquired aptitude that helps apply previously acquired information to a particular situation.Aptitude to procure solutions in tough situations faster than others or having different qualities that augment the way your brain works.
NaturePractical, objective, applied, and hands-on.Subjective, complex, innate, and comprehensive.
OriginComes through learning. it is a trait that is acquired from learning.Inborn trait. It is a quality that comes naturally to a person.
MeasurementSmartness cannot be measured.Intelligence can be measure with IQ tests.
Refers toAppearance, day to day behavior, application of previously acquired knowledge in the present situation.This refers to the ability to gain knowledge or information quickly and the ability of reasoning.


Who is Smart?

“Smart” refers to learned interpretations like making smart emotional or business decisions. Smart is an earned status.

Studying, reading, learning, and educating oneself about a certain subject or topic, makes the person smarter in that topic.

Smart can also be related to sarcasm. A person can be deemed ‘smart’ if he/she gives witty or sarcastic answers or while making sardonic comments in a conversation.

While describing appearances, ‘smart’ is a frequently used word. We are often heard making comments like, “she is a smart dresser” or “you look smart today.”

It simply means that the person has dressed aptly for the situation and is looking extremely well. This never implies that the person is an intelligent dresser.

Smartness implies the ability to adapt to different conditions and situations swiftly and quickly. It is used in day-to-day living situations and is seen to be a practical, hands-on, and, desirable quality.

The word smart gives birth to words like- ‘street-smart’ and ‘book-smart’.

Street-smart is an expression used to describe people who can adapt themselves to all kinds of neighborhoods, learn the workings of that surrounding, and deal with all kinds of personalities existing in that neighborhood confidently and practically. Street smartness arises from experiencing situations and learning through practically adjusting to different kinds of conditions.

Book-smart is an expression to describe people who gain knowledge through studying and reading books rather than learning from practical situations.

A smart person possesses the following traits:

  1. Apt judgment skills
  2. Practical skills
  3. Adaptive in nature

Who is Intelligent?

Derived from the word ‘intelligence’, intelligent is an adjective.  It is the capability to obtain and apply knowledge, information, and skills.

Intelligence is an inherent quality; it is a quality with which one is born. The measurement of one’s intelligence can be done through IQ tests.

It is the capacity of a person to attain knowledge and process it.

Being intelligent is deemed to be an outstanding trait but isn’t thought to be a practical one as the highly intellectual mind isn’t something everyone can understand.

Intelligence is an innate quality and is normally inherited. Our genetic structure gives birth to it.

Thus, no separate efforts are required to be an intelligent person. Rather, the inherent intelligence in a person can be polished by gaining knowledge and make good use of it.

Nevertheless, only intelligence is not enough to round off the personality of anyone. Intelligence does not deem a person witty, smart, clever, or sarcastic.

It only refers to the capability of obtaining knowledge efficiently.

Intelligence does not refer to the capability of a person to apply the acquired knowledge to the real-life, practical situation. Thus, it is said that some intelligent people might not be very practical.

People with high-level intelligence are mostly highly complex and impractical. They’re thus also absent-minded in some cases.

An intelligent person possesses the following traits:

  1. Obtains and comprehends new concepts swiftly and easily
  2. Possess a high level of IQ
  3. Responds or reacts to things in a thoughtful way

Main Differences Between Smart and Intelligent

  1. The main difference between smart and intelligent lies in the origin of the two. Smart Is an acquired or obtained trait whereas, intelligence is a trait with which people are naturally born.
  2. Smartness is about using the obtained knowledge and applying it to practical situations. Intelligence is about gaining knowledge easily and swiftly.
  3. Smartness cannot be measured whereas, intelligence can be measured by conducting an IQ test.
  4. Smart can be used to describe a person’s appearance, sarcasm, or wit. Whereas, we cannot use the word intelligent to describe someone’s appearance.
  5. Smartness is objective, simple, and practical. Whereas, intelligence is complex, subjective, and impractical.
Difference Between Smart and Intelligent


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intelligent
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