Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceWords & Wordplay · 1 decade ago

Hi ! I'm a french native speaker. What's the Difference between smart, intelligent and clever?


As a french native speaker, living in France, we've been taught in school (long ago!) to use the word "clever".

In french, we say "intelligent".

The word "smart" is used in french ; but, it has a different meaning.

A "smart" person (in french) is someone with great social abilities, someone who's sympathetic.

It also refeers (can i say that? "refeers"? not sure) to somebody who's well-dressed, with a good taste in dressing.

Yeah, totally different meaning.

As I chat with american people on the web, I always see people using the word "smart" to describe intelligence.

But are they differences, subtilities or special contexts used between these three words : smart, clever, intelligent, or are they simply totally synonymous ?

Thanks and please forgive my mistakes. :P


3nathn : I do not understand how come I should not know about Quetzal Coatl ?

Thanks for your answer.

And thanks to all of you.

Update 2:

3nathn : I didn't lean about Quetzal Coatl in school. Just by reading some stuff about ancient mythologies.

Update 3:

fourthlinectr : In fact, I always hear the word "smart" used for scientists.

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    For general conversation, 'smart', 'clever', and 'intelligent' are, more or less, the same thing; although, 'intelligent' has a more academic feel to it since it is a longer word, and smart is more simple sounding and colloquially, can be more general.

    I'd recommend looking the definitions up on or or , for a more detailed comparison of the differences.

    And "refeers" should be "refers."

    I do think it's kind of surprising that a French person knows about Quetzalcoatl.

    +In the schools that I've went to, in the US, we learn more about European history and US history and the rest is skimmed over in one class. In France, I would think some somewhat obscure god of a dead Central American civilization wouldn't really be significant enough for you to learn about.

  • Jack P
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I am also non-native english speaker.

    As you learn a new language, you discover that words have different layers of meaning depending on how people speak. This is very hard to get used to and it takes a lot of time to distinguish the small variations of meaning words have.

    "smart" comes from the Old English and it is more of a common and general word.

    "intelligent" comes from Middle French, brought over to the English Isles by the Norman conquerors, and Latin before that. It is a slightly more formal word. You will often find that words that came from Old English are more common, because they were used by the Anglesaxon commoners, and words that came from Middle French are more forma because they were used by the Norman aristocracy.

    "clever" has more of a ambitious and cunning type of a connotation.

  • 1 decade ago

    in reference to the word "smart"... It has more than one meaning. It depends on the context. Listen to the verb used with the word "smart." This will tell you how it is being used.

    Example 1: He LOOKS smart. This refers to good taste in dressing.

    Example 2: He IS smart. This refers to intelligence.

    Smart, clever, and intelligent are synonymous, however, intelligent is the "fancier" of the two. I would continue using Intelligent.

  • 1 decade ago

    Wow, I took French like 2 years ago as a freshman in my highschool. To answer your question- in English, clever, smart, and intelligent are basically synonyms of each other except they apply on different levels.

    Clever is once in a while smart.

    Smart is like standard smart.

    And Intelligent is SUPER smart.

    I hope you get what I'm trying to say, though to answer your question they are the same thing just with different conception of true intelligence.

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  • x
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    You are obviously a smart guy , probably very intelligent and maybe clever too .and bright, brainy, astute, talented, skillful, gifted .a whiz ..who knows smarty boots , clever clogs, smart Aleck ?? :-))

  • 1 decade ago

    In USA-English, it goes something like this:

    A good Scientist is intelligent.

    A good Detective is smart.

    A good con-man is clever.

    It basically goes in order of book-smarts to street-smarts. Hope I could help.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    smart = futé

    clever = brillant

    intelligent = intelligent

  • 1 decade ago

    its all the same. u need just a bit self confidence.

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