wisdom


From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Wisdom \Wis"dom\ (-d[u^]m), n. [AS. w[imac]sd[=o]m. See Wise,
   a., and -dom.]
   [1913 Webster]
   1. 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.
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            We speak also not in wise words of man's wisdom, but
            in the doctrine of the spirit.        --Wyclif (1
                                                  Cor. ii. 13).
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            Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to
            depart from evil is understanding.    --Job xxviii.
                                                  28.
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            It is hoped that our rulers will act with dignity
            and wisdom that they will yield everything to
            reason, and refuse everything to force. --Ames.
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            Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world
            calls wisdom.                         --Coleridge.
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   2. The results of wise judgments; scientific or practical
      truth; acquired knowledge; erudition.
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            Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the
            Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
                                                  --Acts vii.
                                                  22.
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   Syn: Prudence; knowledge.

   Usage: Wisdom, Prudence, Knowledge. Wisdom has been
          defined to be "the use of the best means for attaining
          the best ends." "We conceive," says Whewell, "
          prudence as the virtue by which we select right means
          for given ends, while wisdom implies the selection of
          right ends as well as of right means." Hence, wisdom
          implies the union of high mental and moral excellence.
          Prudence (that is, providence, or forecast) is of a
          more negative character; it rather consists in
          avoiding danger than in taking decisive measures for
          the accomplishment of an object. Sir Robert Walpole
          was in many respects a prudent statesman, but he was
          far from being a wise one. Burke has said that
          prudence, when carried too far, degenerates into a
          "reptile virtue," which is the more dangerous for its
          plausible appearance. Knowledge, a more comprehensive
          term, signifies the simple apprehension of facts or
          relations. "In strictness of language," says Paley, "
          there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom;
          wisdom always supposing action, and action directed by
          it."
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                Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
                Have ofttimes no connection. Knowledge dwells
                In heads replete with thoughts of other men;
                Wisdom, in minds attentive to their own.
                Knowledge, a rude, unprofitable mass,
                The mere materials with which wisdom builds,
                Till smoothed, and squared, and fitted to its
                place,
                Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich.
                Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much;
                Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
                                                  --Cowper.
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   Wisdom tooth, 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.
      [1913 Webster]
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