Intelligent vs. Smart: 5 Key Differences, Characteristics

If two people tell you how smart or smarty you are, you might think they are saying the same thing.

That’s not the case.

People often use “intelligent” and “smart” as if they mean the same thing, but they shouldn’t.

There are small differences between intelligent and smart that have a bigger effect on what it means to be one or the other.

You need to know the differences between the terms in order to use them correctly.

Here are some differences between the words “smart” and “intelligent”

What Does Smart Mean?

People often use the word “smart” to describe someone who is smart. Most of the time, a wise person can make good decisions and act in the right way in real life.

People can get smarter at any time by using what they’ve learned in school or through life.

Intelligent vs. Smart

They can adjust to a situation and make the best of it. Smart people use what they know to their advantage.

What Does Intelligence Mean?

“Intelligence” means the ability to learn quickly and use what you know. This trait is often passed down from parent to child and comes from a person’s genes.

Being smart or intelligent is not the same thing as being intelligent. It just means being able to get information in a good way.

It doesn’t mean putting what you know into practice. Because of this, many professors and scientists with high IQs are often thought of as being forgetful.

Main Distinctions Between Smarts and Intelligence

The level of education is a key difference between being smart and being intelligent.

Smartness is more about making good decisions and dealing with difficult feelings, while intelligence is more about getting a better education. But each of these traits is important in its own way.

Intelligence is a skill that everyone has. IQ tests are often used to measure it. On the other hand, being smart means being able to adapt to situations as best you can.

Smartness is something you can get better at over time, but intelligence is something you are born with.

There is a difference between being smart and being intellectual. People who are smart think quickly and can act quickly.

Intelligent people know a lot of things and know how to solve problems.

Key Differences Between Smart and Intelligent

DefinitionIs a person who uses his intelligence practically and efficiently dailyIs something which a person is born with
MeasurementNon-measurableIQ Test (Intelligence Quotient)
Refers toRefers to intellect and the appearanceThe intellect of a person
NaturePractical and has a good judgmentNot always practical
QualityPossibility to react to a situation in the perfect wayAwareness and quick knowledge absorption

Characteristics Of Smart and Intelligent People

What Are The Characteristics Of Smart People?

One way to tell the difference between being smart and being intelligent is to think about how it applies to people.

The traits of a smart person are not the same as the traits of an intelligent person.

So, here are five important things to look for in a smart person:

1. Ability To Make Decisions

A wise person is someone who knows how to make decisions.

They can use what they’ve learned in the past to make the best decisions they can.

These could be things they learned in school or things they’ve learned in the past.

A wise person, for example, might remember a past failure and the lessons they learned from it.

Then, they use what they’ve learned to make sure they don’t repeat the same mistakes and get a different result.

They might also use math or new ideas they learned in school or college to do a better job.

The outcomes are not always correct or what was hoped for.

On the other hand, a wise person is always able to make good decisions.

They don’t think that they are unable to make one.

They know what they need to know to commit.

The most important thing about a smart person may be that they can read a room.

Before making a choice, they can look at a problem both in depth and in a broad sense.

They act based on what they have learned in the past.

2. They Formulate Before Speaking

Smart people don’t answer right away, which is another thing that sets them apart.

During a debate or an argument, smart people will take their time.

They know that in order to give the right answer, they must first look at all the information.

After they have looked at all the facts, they can start to come up with a good argument, defence, or solution to the problem.

You can tell who is smart and who is not by how quickly they answer.

As a person acts faster, the answer they give tends to get worse.

3. Opportunistic

One reason smart people often do well is that they know how to take advantage of opportunities.

They can see that there is a chance for them.

It might take them a while to decide whether or not to pursue the opportunity, but they can tell the difference between a good one and a time-wasting one.

They’ll take some time to think about the chance to see if it’s worth taking the risk.

If they think it is, they will jump at the chance.

People who are smart are always looking for ways to get ahead.

People who are smart are always looking for opportunities, whether it’s to find the right investment to grow their wealth, a new way to grow their business, or just a way to save money by joining a program.

4. Great Senses Of Humor

There’s a reason why comedians tend to be some of the smartest people in the room.

To have and demonstrate a sense of humor, you must be able to read people and understand their emotions.

Comedy is hard to understand.

The person must find important parts of everyday life that everyone can relate to.

Then they have to say it in a funny way.

They have to make the audience care about the story and set up the funny parts without the audience noticing.

This necessitates a high level of self-awareness as well as awareness of others.

The comic must know who’s reading it.

Smart people know that life is short and that they shouldn’t worry about certain things.

It’s a good sign of emotional maturity to be able to laugh at yourself or not take yourself too seriously.

Being smart is a sign of emotional maturity.

Smart people also know that making people laugh is a great way to calm them down.

When people are calmer, they can pay more attention and get more done.

Because of this, smart people will try to use comedy to keep everyone in a good mood.

It works out well for everyone.

5. Employ Lateral Thinking

There are two main ways to think about something.

Linear thinking is a way of thinking that is only based on what a person has seen and done.

You might be talking about someone else’s experiences instead of your own.

Lateral thinking includes many different points of view.

It includes your own experiences, the experiences of other people, and new experiences you don’t know much about yet.

A wise person is more likely to think laterally than in a straight line.

They know that their own experiences give them a lot of information that can help them make a decision.

They are also aware that their own unique experiences are a very scarce resource.

They are open to new ideas and ways of looking at things, and they use what they learn to make better choices.

A person is smart if they are willing to learn new things.

For them, their point of view is not enough.

What Are The Characteristics Of An Intelligent Person?

You can now compare the things that make someone smart with the things that make someone smart.

When you compare intelligent and smart, you can tell the difference.

Here are some things that smart people do.

1. Curiosity

Curiosity is probably the best way to tell if someone is smart.

They want to learn new things and experience new things.

This lets kids gain more experiences that they can use later.

People who are smart always have a lot of questions.

They never seem happy with simple answers.

They want to know “why” or “how” something works.

They ask a lot of questions about life and then try to find answers.

2. Quiet And Observant

Like wise people, intelligent people tend to be quiet before they speak.

They are more observant than smart people because they try to keep track of what everyone says and how they feel about a topic.

They decide what to do based on what people say to each other, their own experiences, their body language, and the atmosphere of the room.

Intelligent people may never talk.

They would rather take a long time to think about the things they learn through observation.

A wise person might think about something for a few minutes or for hours.

A wise person might take days to decide on something.

They don’t want to argue about it.

Instead, they tell you what they think and then ask you what you think.

They want to know why you think the way you do and where you got that idea from more than they want to shut you down or dismiss your point of view.

3. Procrastinators

People who put things off are often seen as bad, but this isn’t always the case.

People who are smart tend to put things off because they spend so much time thinking and observing.

They don’t like being forced to make a choice.

They want to be sure that the choice they make is the best one.

Because of this, people may take an unusually long time to finish a task or figure out a problem.

When they do finish something or figure something out, it’s usually worth the wait.

Because they had a lot of time to think about and watch the situation, they were often able to come up with something creative.

Smart people can solve problems faster, but that doesn’t mean the results are always good.

When smart people sit with a problem for a little longer, they come up with new ideas.

Intelligent vs. Smart

4. Introversion

Even though not all smart people are shy, many of them are.

This is because being smart requires a lot of thinking about yourself.

They have to look at both their own views and those of other people.

This needs a lot of time and thought.

Because of this, many smart people choose to think and analyze for themselves.

That way, there will be fewer people to distract you.

When they are alone, they can use all of their brainpower to think about and solve the problem.

Even if a person doesn’t think of themselves as introverted, others may think they are because they like to be alone and think.

5. Night Owls

A night owl is someone who likes to stay up late and sleep during the day.

Smart people are night owls because the world is quietest at night.

They can think better because there are fewer things going on around them.

Some smart people are more interested in things that happen during the day, but many others like the peace and quiet of the night to think about their lives.

Introversion and staying up late often go hand in hand.


Intelligence is the ability to think about things in an abstract way, to understand and learn new things, and to use what you know. Smartness is being able to use what you know quickly and effectively.

To put it another way, intelligence is the ability to learn, while smartness is the ability to use what you’ve learned.

Both intelligence and smarts are important in life. On the other hand, intelligence is more important in school, while smartness is more important when it comes to using what you’ve learned.

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