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From Old French intelligence, from Latin intelligentia.


  • IPA(key): /ɪnˈtɛl.ɪ.d͡ʒəns/
  • (file)


intelligence (countable and uncountable, plural intelligences)

  1. (uncountable) Capacity of mind, especially to understand principles, truths, facts or meanings, acquire knowledge, and apply it to practice; the ability to comprehend and learn.
    • 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, Chapter 5
      Not so, however, with Tarzan, the man-child. His life amidst the dangers of the jungle had taught him to meet emergencies with self-confidence, and his higher intelligence resulted in a quickness of mental action far beyond the powers of the apes.
    • 2013 July 19, Ian Sample, “Irregular bedtimes may affect children's brains”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 6, page 34:
      Irregular bedtimes may disrupt healthy brain development in young children, according to a study of intelligence and sleeping habits.  ¶ Going to bed at a different time each night affected girls more than boys, but both fared worse on mental tasks than children who had a set bedtime, researchers found.
  2. (countable) An entity that has such capacities.
    • Tennyson
      The great Intelligences fair / That range above our mortal state, / In circle round the blessed gate, / Received and gave him welcome there.
  3. (uncountable) Information, usually secret, about the enemy or about hostile activities.
  4. (countable) A political or military department, agency or unit designed to gather information, usually secret, about the enemy or about hostile activities.
  5. (dated) Acquaintance; intercourse; familiarity.
    • Clarendon
      He lived rather in a fair intelligence than any friendship with the favourite


Derived termsEdit




Borrowed from Latin intelligentia (the act of choosing between, intelligence), from intellegō (understand), from inter (between) + legō (choose, pick out, read).


  • IPA(key): /ɛ̃.tɛ.li.ʒɑ̃s/, /ɛ̃ʒɑ̃s/
  • (file)


intelligence f (plural intelligences)

  1. intelligence; cleverness
  2. comprehension

Further readingEdit



Borrowed from English intelligence.


intelligence f (invariable)

  1. A political or military department, agency or unit designed to gather information.

Middle FrenchEdit


intelligence f (plural intelligences)

  1. intelligence
  2. comprehension
    • 1595, Michel de Montaigne, Essais, book II, chapter 10:
      Je souhaiterois avoir plus parfaicte comprehension des choses, mais je ne la veux pas achepter si cher qu’elle couste.
      I would like to have a more perfect knowledge of everything, but I don't want to buy it for how much it costs

Old FrenchEdit


intelligence f (oblique plural intelligences, nominative singular intelligence, nominative plural intelligences)

  1. comprehension
  2. meaning
  3. ability to comprehend