What’s the difference between clever and smart?
If we dictionary it we get the following:
clever– quick to understand, learn, and devise or apply ideas: intelligent (Oxford Languages)
smart–having or showing a quick-witted intelligence (Oxford Languages)
When we look at it on the surface, it appears that these are related- it appears that they are virtually the same. However, when I think about these two words, I don’t necessarily think of them the same way.
When I think of smart, I think of someone who is teachable- they can sit in a classroom, or read a book, they will absorb the knowledge and you will be able to question them about it. But I don’t necessarily know if smart equates with being able to make conclusions and think independently. My Husband is book smart- I’ve watched him study for his Master’s degrees, and I know he can read and answer test questions. However, he’s not so great at thinking outside the box, or forming new ideas. He’s not so great at making independent conclusions that haven’t been tested before.
Now, when I think of clever, I think of someone who may or may not have done well at school. They might score a high test grade, or an abysmally low one- sometimes they just can’t get what is on the page or lecture. However, people that are clever notice things that others don’t- they are able to see outside the box; they are able to take practical and learned knowledge and come to an independent conclusion about something. Clever people break ground.
I clearly think that clever and smart are not the same- that there are subtle nuances that distinguish the two, and I would use the words differently when describing people both in person and on the page.
But what about you? How do you define the words? Do you think there are differences or are these words interchangable?