Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.
  • noun Common sense; good judgment.
  • noun The sum of learning through the ages; knowledge.
  • noun Wise teachings of the ancient sages.
  • noun A wise outlook, plan, or course of action.
  • noun Bible Wisdom of Solomon.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The property of being wise; the power or faculty of forming the fittest and truest judgment in any matter presented for consideration; a combination of discernment, discretion, and sagacity, or similar qualities and faculties, involving also a certain amount of knowledge, especially the knowledge of men and things gained by experience.
  • noun Human learning; knowledge of arts and sciences; erudition.
  • noun With possessive pronouns used as a personification (like “your highness,” etc.).
  • noun A wise saying or act; a wise thing.
  • noun Skill; skilfulness.
  • noun [In Scripture the word is sometimes specifically used, especially in Paul's Epistles, in an opprobrious sense to designate the theosophical speculations (1 Cor. i. 19, 20) or rhetorical arts (1 Cor. ii. 5) current among the Greeks and Romans in the first century; sometimes in a good sense to designate spiritual perception of, accompanied with obedience to, the divine law (Prov. iii. 13; Acts vi. 3). Sometimes (as in Prov. viii.) it has personal attributes assigned to it.]
  • noun =Syn.1. Knowledge, Prudence, Wisdom., Discretion, Providence, Forecast, Provision. Knowledge has several steps, as the perception of facts, the accumulation of facts, and familiarity by experience, but it does not include action, nor the power of judging what is best in ends to be pursued or in means for attaining those ends. Prudence is sometimes the power of judging what are the best means for attaining desired ends; it may be a word or action, or it may be simply the power to avoid danger. It implies deliberation and care, whether in acting or refraining from action. Wisdom chooses not only the best means but also the best ends; it is thus far higher than prudence, which may by choosing wrong ends go altogether astray; hence also it is often used in the Bible for piety. As compared with knowledge, it sees more deeply into the heart of things and more broadly and comprehensively sums up relations, draws conclusions, and acts upon them; hence a man may abound in knowledge and be very deficient in wisdom, or he may have a practical wisdom with a comparatively small stock of knowledge. Discretion is the power to judge critically what is correct and proper, sometimes without suggesting action, but more often in view of action proposed or possible. Like prudence the word implies great caution, and takes for granted that a man will not act contrary to what he knows. Providence looks much further ahead than prudence or discretion, and plans and acts according to what it sees. It may be remarked that provision, which is from the same root as providence and prudence, is primarily a word of action, while they are only secondarily so. Forecast is a grave word for looking carefully forward to the consequences of present situations and decisions; it implies, like all these words except knowledge, that one will act according to what he can make out of the future. See cautious, astute, and genius.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The quality of being wise; knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it; knowledge of the best ends and the best means; discernment and judgment; discretion; sagacity; skill; dexterity.
  • noun The results of wise judgments; scientific or practical truth; acquired knowledge; erudition.
  • noun the last, or back, tooth of the full set on each half of each jaw in man; -- familiarly so called, because appearing comparatively late, after the person may be supposed to have arrived at the age of wisdom. See the Note under Tooth, 1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable An element of personal character that enables one to distinguish the wise from the unwise.
  • noun countable A piece of wise advice.
  • noun The discretionary use of knowledge for the greatest good.
  • noun The ability to apply relevant knowledge in an insightful way, especially to different situations from that in which the knowledge was gained.
  • noun The ability to make a decision based on the combination of knowledge, experience, and intuitive understanding.
  • noun theology The ability to know and apply spiritual truths.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun accumulated knowledge or erudition or enlightenment
  • noun an Apocryphal book consisting mainly of a meditation on wisdom; although ascribed to Solomon it was probably written in the first century BC
  • noun the quality of being prudent and sensible
  • noun the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight
  • noun ability to apply knowledge or experience or understanding or common sense and insight

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English wīsdōm; see weid- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English wisdom, from Old English wīsdōm ("wisdom"), from Proto-Germanic *wīsadōmaz (“wisdom”), corresponding to wise +‎ -dom or wise +‎ doom (“judgement”). Cognate with Scots wisdom, wysdom ("wisdom"), West Frisian wiisdom ("wisdom"), Dutch wijsdom ("wisdom"), German Weistum ("legal sentence"), Danish/Norwegian/Swedish visdom ("wisdom"), Icelandic vísdómur ("wisdom").

Examples

Comments

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  • "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." -- Confucius

    July 2, 2009

  • “Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.�?

    Sandra Carey

    July 2, 2009

  • In my experience so-called wise people tend to be the fullest of shit.

    July 2, 2009

  • Wisdom will bring an individual to great heights with determination.

    October 5, 2011

  • Wisdom is knowledge based on experience.

    October 5, 2011