Difference Between Smart and Clever

Main Difference – Smart vs Clever 

Smart and clever are both positive adjectives that refer to the intelligence or the aptitude of a person. Both adjectives refer to the ability to understand, learn quickly and devise or apply ideas appropriately. Although the meanings of these two adjectives are similar, there are subtle differences in their meaning and usage. The main difference between smart and clever is that clever connotes a sense of originality or ingenuity whereas smart doesn’t. Smart is also used to describe the physical appearance of an individual.

Smart – Meaning and Usage

Smart refers to being intelligent and having the ability to apply the intelligence to practical situations. So a smart person knows how to use his knowledge and intelligence. A smart person is practical and has common sense.

Smart can also refer to the physical appearance. A person who looks neat, clean and well dressed can be described with the adjective smart.

The following examples will illustrate the meaning and usage of the adjective smart.

You look very smart today.

He is such a smart boy.

She always gives very smart answers.

Mila was wearing a smart blue dress.

Dean is a very smart and intelligent child.          

Main Difference - Smart vs Clever

He is a smart little boy.  

Clever – Meaning and Usage

Clever also refers to the intelligence and the ability to learn things quickly. A clever person always knows how to get out of difficult situations by using his intelligence and wit. The adjective clever also implies a sense of originality and creativity. This adjective is also used to describe a person who is creative and skillful. Therefore, clever has the connotations of originality and ingenuity. You can understand the meaning and usage of this better by looking at the following examples.

The little boy taught his dog some clever tricks.

How clever of you to think of this idea!

My sister is very clever with her hands.

You are too clever for your own good.

He was a clever manipulator.

In all the above examples, you’ll note that the two adjectives cannot be exchanged. For example, we don’t say that someone is smart with his hands. We also use the phrase ‘clever with hands’. Similarly, we don’t say someone is wearing a clever dress, but we use the phrase smart dress.

Difference Between Smart and Clever

They are clever with their hands.

Difference Between Smart and Clever 


Smart also refers to the physical appearance of an individual.

Clever does not refer to the physical appearance of an individual.

Creativity or originality

Smart does not refer to creativity or originality.

Clever implies a sense of originality and creativity.Difference Between Smart and Clever - infographic

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.