Difference Between Smart and Intelligent


Main Difference

The main difference between intelligent and smart is that smart is an earned status by studying or learning something, and intelligence is something inborn in a person.

Smart vs. Intelligent

Smart is known as an earned status. When we learn and study, we become smarter in the subject matter. Intelligence is something with which a person is born. His IQ (intelligence quotient) is a measurement of his intelligence. It does not change because it is a measure of his ability to learn. Someone smart is a person who uses his intelligence practically and effectively in the day to day context. He is aware of his environment and is good at being practical in problem-solving. Intelligence has a direct link with a person’s ability to comprehend things and respond rationally accordingly. Smartness involves quick thinking and the ability to come up with the desired solution for a situation that anyone else has not thought. Smartness in many contexts is termed as a skill since a person can be smarter at doing certain things with the time. Intelligence is usually inherited at birth, and it is considered an innate ability. An intelligent person is more quick and effective at learning new concepts effectively as he/she is good at understanding things. Smart is also be used to describe appearance. If someone is a smart dresser or smartly representing oneself, it does not implies that he has intelligence. It means he is appropriate for the condition and looks very good. We never imply that someone is an intelligent dresser. Intelligence suggests a certain degree of higher education. Intelligent people are to those who have completed a higher level of education than high school.


Comparison Chart

Is the acquired ability to apply the prior acquired knowledgeIs the innate ability to acquire knowledge
Always practicalMay not always practical
Refers to
Intellect and appearance of a personThe intellect of a person only
Cannot be measuredCan be measured
Intelligence level

What is Smart?

Smart is an adjective which directs to the intelligence of a person. A smart person also refers to an intelligent person except he knows how to apply his intelligence to practical situations. Being smart asserts having the ability to quickly adapt to a situation and make the best of it. Smartness is a practical, applicable, and generally desirable trait for day-to-day life. Smart is the origin of the expression “street smart.” This expression is used for people who can read a situation and act accordingly, especially on the streets of a bad neighborhood, where civil laws and social rules may sometimes not apply. Smart can also be implicit to sarcasm. We use the terms ‘smart like’ answers, or we are given the title of ‘smart’ when we are answering a question or talking in a conversation. Smart also be used to admire attires. A smart person has the qualities:

  • good judgment
  • he is practical
  • adapt himself to situations

What is Intelligent?

Intelligent is an adjective derived from the noun ‘intelligence.’ Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply skills and knowledge. Intelligence is a trait with which people are born. IQ tests can measure it. Intelligence is the ability of a person to gain information and process it. Being intelligent is an excellent trait, but not a practical one as everyone is not able to understand some highly intellectual works. Intelligence is usually inherited and is considered as an innate ability. It simply stems from your genetic makeup. So being intelligent does not require any efforts to put rather you polish your innate intelligence by acquiring knowledge and utilizing it. However, intelligence alone is not sufficient to complete the personality of a person. Intelligence is not going to regard a person smart or clever. It merely refers to the ability to acquire knowledge effectively. It does not refer to the ability to apply this knowledge to practical situations. Some intelligent people are very impractical. This is why many professors and scientists who have a high intelligence level are often known as absent-minded people. An intelligent person has the following qualities:

  • learns and understands new concepts quickly and easily
  • have a great level of IQ
  • responds to things in a better way

Key Differences

  1. Smart is the ability to apply previously gained knowledge in practical situations. Conversely intelligent refers to the ability to acquire knowledge swiftly.
  2. Smart is acting practically and effectively in social contexts. On the other hand intelligent is the understanding and is related to the ability one has for reasoning.
  3. Smartness that is relative whereas intelligence is quite an independent concept.
  4. Smartness is a skill on the flip side Intelligence is something inherited at birth.
  5. A smart person has a low level of intelligence, but an intelligent person has a high level of intelligence.


We can call a person educated without being smart or intelligent. But with these traits, he can gain knowledge and can apply it more efficiently.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson