Intelligence is your ability to comprehend something, like calculus or why plants grow toward the sun.

Intelligence comes from the Latin word intelligere, "to understand," which makes sense because it refers to someone's ability to understand things. Your intelligence helps you pass math class and learn French. It means smarts — what you need at least some of to get through school. Intelligence has an exciting double life: it also refers to what spies are trying to get — information from the enemy. You can be born with it, or acquire it, especially if you're in the CIA.

Definitions of intelligence
  1. noun
    the ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience
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    a poor ability to understand or to profit from experience
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    brain, brainpower, learning ability, mental capacity, mentality, wit
    mental ability
    breadth, comprehensiveness, largeness
    the capacity to understand a broad range of topics
    intellect, mind
    knowledge and intellectual ability
    nonverbal intelligence
    intelligence that is manifested in the performance of tasks requiring little or no use of language
    verbal intelligence
    intelligence in the use and comprehension of language
    mental quickness, quick-wittedness, quickness
    intelligence as revealed by an ability to give correct responses without delay
    mental dexterity, nimbleness
    intelligence as revealed by quickness and alertness of mind
    brilliance, genius
    unusual mental ability
    precociousness, precocity
    intelligence achieved far ahead of normal developmental schedules
    acuity, acuteness, keenness, sharpness
    a quick and penetrating intelligence
    brightness, cleverness, smartness
    intelligence as manifested in being quick and witty
    astuteness, perspicaciousness, perspicacity, shrewdness
    intelligence manifested by being astute (as in business dealings)
    marbles, wits
    the basic human power of intelligent thought and perception
    capaciousness, roominess
    intellectual breadth
    a sudden or striking display of brilliance
    (music) brilliance of display (as in the performance of music)
    a brilliant display of wit
    steel trap
    an acute intelligence (an analogy based on the well-known sharpness of steel traps)
    craft, craftiness, cunning, foxiness, guile, slyness, wiliness
    shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception
    acumen, insightfulness
    shrewdness shown by keen insight
    shrewdness demonstrated by knowledge
    street smarts
    a shrewd ability to survive in a dangerous urban environment
    type of:
    ability, power
    possession of the qualities (especially mental qualities) required to do something or get something done
  2. noun
    secret information about an enemy (or potential enemy)
    “we sent out planes to gather intelligence on their radar coverage”
    synonyms: intelligence information
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    military intelligence
    information about the armed forces of another country that is useful in planning and conducting military policy or military operations
    type of:
    info, information
    a message received and understood
  3. noun
    information about recent and important events
    synonyms: news, tidings, word
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    good word
    good news
    the most recent news or development
    news that updates your information
    type of:
    info, information
    a message received and understood
  4. noun
    a unit responsible for gathering and interpreting information about an enemy
    synonyms: intelligence agency, intelligence service
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    military intelligence, military intelligence agency
    an agency of the armed forces that obtains and analyzes and uses information of strategic or tactical military value
    United States intelligence agency
    an intelligence service in the United States
    IC, Intelligence Community, National Intelligence Community, United States Intelligence Community
    a group of government agencies and organizations that carry out intelligence activities for the United States government; headed by the Director of Central Intelligence
    international intelligence agency
    an intelligence agency outside the United States
    CIA, Central Intelligence Agency
    an independent agency of the United States government responsible for collecting and coordinating intelligence and counterintelligence activities abroad in the national interest; headed by the Director of Central Intelligence under the supervision of the President and National Security Council
    DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency
    an intelligence agency of the United States in the Department of Defense; is responsible for providing intelligence in support of military planning and operations and weapons acquisition
    CSIS, Canadian Security Intelligence Service
    Canada's main foreign intelligence agency that gathers and analyzes information to provide security intelligence for the Canadian government
    CIM, Central Intelligence Machinery
    the United Kingdom's central unit for the tasking and coordination and funding of intelligence and security agencies
    CSE, Communications Security Establishment
    Canadian agency that gathers communications intelligence and assist law enforcement and security agencies
    CISC, Criminal Intelligence Services of Canada
    an agency of the Canadian government that unifies the intelligence units of Canadian law enforcement agencies
    Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, ISI, Inter-Services Intelligence
    the Pakistan intelligence agency; a powerful and almost autonomous political and military force; has procured nuclear technology and delivery capabilities; has had strong ties with the Taliban and other militant Islamic groups
    Foreign Intelligence Service, SVR, Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki
    Russia's intelligence service responsible for foreign operations, intelligence-gathering and analysis, and the exchange of intelligence information; collaborates with other countries to oppose proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and organized crime
    ISN, International Relations and Security Network
    Switzerland's information network for security and defense studies and for peace and conflict research and for international relations
    IIS, Iraqi Intelligence Service, Iraqi Mukhabarat
    the most notorious and possibly the most important arm of Iraq's security system
    the Israeli military intelligence which produces comprehensive national intelligence briefings for the prime minister and the cabinet
    the Israeli foreign intelligence agency
    MI, Military Intelligence Section 6, Secret Intelligence Service
    the government agency in the United Kingdom that is responsible for internal security and counterintelligence overseas
    SIRC, Security Intelligence Review Committee
    an agency of the Canadian government that oversees the activities of the Criminal Intelligence Services of Canada and has the power to intrude on the privacy of suspected terrorists or spies
    MI, Military Intelligence Section 5, Security Service
    the government agency in the United Kingdom that is responsible for internal security and counterintelligence on British territory
    General Security Services, Shin Bet
    the Israeli domestic counterintelligence and internal security agency
    NRO, National Reconnaissance Office
    an intelligence agency in the United States Department of Defense that designs and builds and operates space reconnaissance systems to detect trouble spots worldwide and to monitor arms control agreements and environmental issues and to help plan military operations
    NSA, National Security Agency
    the United States cryptologic organization that coordinates and directs highly specialized activities to protect United States information systems and to produce foreign intelligence information
    SS, Secret Service, US Secret Service, USSS, United States Secret Service
    the United States intelligence agency that protects current and former presidents and vice presidents and their immediate families and protects distinguished foreign visitors; detects and apprehends counterfeiters; suppresses forgery of government securities and documents
    type of:
    administrative body, administrative unit
    a unit with administrative responsibilities
  5. noun
    the operation of gathering information about an enemy
    synonyms: intelligence activity, intelligence operation
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    spying, undercover work
    the act of keeping a secret watch for intelligence purposes
    current intelligence
    intelligence of all types and forms of immediate interest; usually disseminated without delays for evaluation or interpretation
    combat intelligence, tactical intelligence
    intelligence that is required for the planning and conduct of tactical operations
    strategic intelligence
    intelligence that is required for forming policy and military plans at national and international levels
    SIGINT, signals intelligence
    intelligence information gathered from communications intelligence or electronics intelligence or telemetry intelligence
    clandestine operation
    an intelligence operation so planned and executed as to insure concealment
    overt operation
    the collection of intelligence openly without concealment
    reconnaissance, reconnaissance mission
    the act of reconnoitring (especially to gain information about an enemy or potential enemy)
    intelligence activities concerned with identifying and counteracting the threat to security posed by hostile intelligence organizations or by individuals engaged in espionage or sabotage or subversion or terrorism
    the systematic use of spies to get military or political secrets
    spying on the spies
    security intelligence
    intelligence on the identity and capability and intentions of hostile individuals or organizations that may be engaged in espionage or sabotage or subversion or terrorism
    censoring, censorship, security review
    counterintelligence achieved by banning or deleting any information of value to the enemy
    terrain intelligence
    tactical intelligence on the natural and man-made characteristics of an area
    ELINT, electronics intelligence
    intelligence derived from electromagnetic radiations from foreign sources (other than radioactive sources)
    COMINT, communications intelligence
    technical and intelligence information derived from foreign communications by other than the intended recipients
    TELINT, telemetry intelligence
    intelligence derived from the interception and processing and analysis of foreign telemetry
    exfiltration operation
    a clandestine rescue operation to bring a defector or refugee or an operative and family out of danger
    recce, recco, reccy
    reconnaissance (by shortening)
    exploratory survey, reconnoitering, reconnoitring, scouting
    exploring in order to gain information
    air reconnaissance
    reconnaissance either by visual observation from the air or through the use of airborne sensors
    reconnaissance by fire
    a method of reconnaissance in which fire is placed on a suspected enemy position in order to cause the enemy to disclose his presence by moving or returning fire
    reconnaissance in force
    an offensive operation designed to discover or test the enemy's strength (or to obtain other information)
    a quick look around (originally military slang)
    electronic reconnaissance
    the detection and identification and evaluation and location of foreign electromagnetic radiations (other than radioactive)
    the aspect of counterintelligence designed to detect and prevent subversive activities
    counterintelligence designed to detect and counteract sabotage
    type of:
    information gathering
    the act of collecting information
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