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Wis"dom (-dŭm), n. [AS. w&ī;sd&ō;m. See Wise, a., and -dom.]
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.
We speak also not in wise words of man's wisdom, but in the doctrine of the spirit. Wyclif (1 Cor. ii. 13).
Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job xxviii. 28.
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.
Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom. Coleridge.
2. The results of wise judgments; scientific or practical truth; acquired knowledge; erudition.
Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. Acts vii. 22.
Syn. -- Prudence; knowledge. 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.”
Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, Cowper.
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.
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.