Define "Smart"


No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
In a thread in H&F I said my mother was stupid. Accurate, and age hasn't done her any favors. She was starting from a deficit, so I frequently have this look on my face with the stuff she says D^:

My father was a little trickier. He was very well read, and like an encyclopedia, but outside of finance he didn't seem to be able to extend the knowledge he read. That's especially true in the physical world. Household repairs, cooking, woodworking... He gave it all hell, but I have to laugh sometimes when I see his creations.

So... What makes a "regular" person "smart"? Outside of the elite pushing humans forward(Einstein, Pythagoras, Hawking...), where do the normies fit in? Perfect recall of what's been read? "Creation"(art, science, or craft)? What about the illiterate third worlder that can intuit how things go together, and just build something that works?


aka Brandon
Jul 18, 2004
A smart person isn't stuck with only utilizing what they've previously learned, they continue to absorb information through their life


Feb 13, 2003
Someone who can rapidly and easily use their existing knowledge to figure out how to accomplish and work out new things.



Golden Member
Apr 8, 2008
Adapting and thriving when confronted with new situations or issues.


Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2005
Smart is when Mayne put a lock on his bedroom door so his nephew couldn't steal his food and weed.
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Diamond Member
Mar 30, 2005
ability to apply knowledge / make connections - to solve problems / handle situations


Jun 19, 2006
There is definitely a smart
One day u will .... choke dat chicken CoolCat


The Indians send signals
From the rocks above the pass
The cowboys take positions
In the bushes and the grass
The squaw is with the Corporal
She is tied against the tree
She doesn't mind the language
It's the beating she don't need
She let's loose all the horses
When the Corporal is asleep
And he wakes to find the fire's dead
And arrows in his hats
And Davy Crockett rides around
And says it's cool for cats

It's cool for cats
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Oct 18, 2013
To me its the ability to take in information, conceptualize and then extrapolate connections to allow for the utilization in a novel way.

Many people seem to be able to imitate with out much of an understanding.


Senior member
May 15, 2014
Being an autodidact, legend has it that baby George WIlliam Sidis taught himself how to use a spoon, ancient Greek and Latin


Diamond Member
Apr 13, 2014
I work with someone that is really book smart. But he will get a blank look on his face if he has to gas pipe a furnace.


Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
"Think before you act" are good words to live by. Smart and stupid people alike can seem like idiots at times when they fail to ever follow these rules, and vise versa.


Diamond Member
Apr 13, 2014
I just got done talking to my niece. She found a new apartment because all her dad will talk about his son/my nephew. bittersweet feelings right now.


Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
"Smart" typically means what pop culture defines as're a scientist or something. But there's also things like street smarts. I know highly-paid businessmen who type with two fingers using the hunt & peck method, and make ten times the money that I do, so despite my keyboarding skills, I'm not really all that smart from that perspective, eh?

Yet I also know businessmen who make six figures & are living paycheck to paycheck, so you can be commercially successful, yet financially a failure. Smart is relative to the scene in question. There's a good book called "The Talent Code" that discusses what talent is & how to grow it; talent is basically a combination of your ability to do something (because not everyone can physically do certain things, like say win the Olympics) coupled with the speed or rate at which you can learn it. Child prodigies have a natural aptitude for learning particular things quickly, which is why you see things like 8-year-olds who can play the guitar like Elvis. Anyone can learn to play the guitar, it just take more time because you require more time to learn the instruments & memorize songs, but there's always that "wow" factor when someone learns it fast or learns it young or is amazing at something in public.

However, on the flip side, if you put in the time & effort to mastering something, then people will see you as naturally talented, instead of seeing all of the practice & work you put into learning something. This is a particularly bad trap for bright kids because they'll cruise along in their early years with life on easy mode, and then when they hit a point where they have to do real work & actually try hard & be persistent at something, they crash & burn because they've never had to do it before. This is where the phrase "bright, but undisciplined" comes from...the ability is there, but the daily work required to grow in that field wasn't put in consistently, or at all.

Hard work beats simply having talent any day, but talent plus hard work is pretty much the trump card that can't be beat. Just look at Michael Phelps or Lance Armstrong...they not only had the capacity to do their sport, but they also put in the work to master it & become the best. Politics also play a role at times. Like, Arnold had the right body for bodybuilding aesthetics, proportion-wise - he had the natural "ability" & then put in the work to get the body he wanted - and he won Mr. Olympia 7 times for it, even though there were technically people in better shape than he was at times, but he was marketable & grew to be famous & politically that also worked for him to win over & over again.

For most people in most situations, that's all BS anyway. All of you are here because you can operate a computer, you can type, you can read & write English, and want to communicate with like-minded people in an online environment because you're bored or lonely or whatever. Does it matter than you maybe can't type 200 words per minute? No, because you're still able to do the task in question. That's why a lot of races like Ironman aren't about winning, but rather about finishing & setting a new PR, or personal record, because you're basically competing against yourself at that point. You may simply not have the physical mechanics or lung capacity or whatever to complete a sub-8-hour Ironman event, but that doesn't mean you still can't compete & have a good time & be competitive.

So "smart" depends on the field, and you can be smart in some areas & royally dumb in other areas. Plus there are a lot of smart people who don't show it off publicly. Most people who are "smart" or are really good at something get that way because they spend a lot of time working on the right stuff to get good at it. Lots of effort & many years combine to create the persona that everyone sees as "smart". And a lot of really smart people are really bad when it comes to emotional intelligence. Elon Musk is a wildly smart dude, but his first wife said that one time he told her "If you were an employee, I'd fire you". From a seemingly smart guy, that's not the smartest choice of words when talking to someone you love.

There's a variety of other types of intelligence as well. One of my buddies isn't book-smart, but he can take apart, reassemble, and fix or make better anything he touches...engines, cars, boats, house projects, you name it. His mechanical aptitude is amazing, but if you put him in front of a textbook, he's not so good at that. Other people have lower IQ's & just struggle with the basics all their lives. I'm like that with math...I have a really hard time visualizing numbers. I can write a huge post on a some random topic, no problem, but give me a math problem beyond simple addition & I'm reaching for a calculator, haha. It's just not an aptitude I have, but I can make it work with a pencil & paper, a calculator, and maybe the Photo Math smartphone app, lol.
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Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2005
I purposely set expectations low so I don't have to work very hard to exceed them. It has worked out wonderfully throughout my career. I think that makes me smart. :D
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Platinum Member
Jan 19, 2018
I would define smart as the ability to

1) retain information

2) readily access that information

3) combine what you've learned to solve the problems you encounter

"smart" does not necessarily mean the same thing as "sharp" when applied to someone's mental capability imo.


No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
Well a smart phone is defined as a phone that changes colors and makes noises when you fondle it so we can start there.