Difference Between Clever and Wise and Intelligent and Smart -

Clever vs Wise vs Intelligent vs Smart

Clever, wise, intelligent and smart are four words in English language that all connote positive attributes about an individual (not all 4 apply to a person in general). However, there are instances when people make incorrect use of these words because of their limited knowledge of the true meanings of these words. This article will help cement the meanings and usage of these words to avoid any embarrassment because fo incorrect usage.


Intelligent is the easiest of these words and one applies the word to refer to a person having thinking and analyzing ability. We talk of intelligent appliances and also use the word artificial intelligence to refer to gadgets that have the capability to adapt to changing circumstances. If scientists talk about intelligent life on any planet like Mars, they are naturally referring to life forms that have some resemblance to human abilities. Ability to understand and grasp concepts and then use them in life situations is called intelligence which is what we refer to when we talk about apes having intelligence.


Clever is a word that is used for people (mostly for animals such as dogs) who can think of alternative ways to wriggle out of a tough situation. If you put a barrier in front of a moving cockroach, it may not think of a way to get out but a more intelligent creature may find a way to circumvent the barrier. Clever has come to denote a person who is cunning but it is not right as clever is always used in a positive sense.


Wise is a word that connotes a person who has a lot of knowledge and wisdom. This is why elderly people are mostly associated with this word as life has made them pass through tough situations making them wise. You always ask for help from a wise person as you think he has the answer to a situation that proves difficult for you.


Smart is very close to intelligence though these days it has come to be associated with physical appearance. Smart is also well dressed. It is less formal than intelligent and is therefore not used in its place. Smart and clever are not synonyms as many people think, though both have similar connotations. Smart is used when a person knows a lot of stuff and also gets good grades in exams.