Intelligent vs. Intellectual? What’s The Difference?

Both intelligent and intellectual are adjectives used to describe people who are very smart. However, these words are used to describe different ways that people are smart.

You can avoid not sounding intelligent by understanding the difference between these two terms and knowing when to use each term.

The Definition Of Intelligent

The word intelligent describes a person who can efficiently learn new things and understand the things that they are learning thoroughly. An intelligent person can pick up things that may be confusing to some and knows what to ask to understand those things thoroughly.

The Definition Of Intellectual

The word intellectual describes a person who thinks in a very clear and concise manner and is able to understand complex ideas and concepts without much effort. An intellectual person is one that enjoys challenging themselves mentally and is constantly on the hunt for more information to learn.

What Is The Difference?

It can be hard to understand the difference between intelligent and intellectual at first glance. The terms both seem to describe people who are very smart, which is true.

However, intelligence is a measurable attribute, while intellect is not. Referring to a person as intellectual is very matter-of-fact and cannot really be debated, whereas intelligence is more broad and can be interpreted by different people in different ways.

There are also different types of intelligence that can be measured. These intelligences include emotional intelligence, logical intelligence, musical intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence, for example.

Intellect is a pretty rigid term that cannot really be measured in any adaptable way. Someone is either an intellect or they are not.

When Do I Use Intelligent?

You want to use the word intelligent to describe someone who is a quick learner. You would also use intelligent to describe a person who finds different subjects easy to understand.

When Do I Use Intellectual?

You would describe a person who is very booksmart and learned as an intellect. You would also use the word intellect to describe a person who is able to understand complicated ideas and things in such a way that they could explain them to anyone.

Examples Of Intelligent And Intellectual In Sentences

The following are examples of how you would see each term used correctly in a sentence.

I could see she was very intelligent because she was able to solve all five of those math problems in under a minute.

He is often regarded as a man with great intellect, but he still can’t manage to toast bread without burning it.