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I know this is probably a very simple question, but it seems to me that I see "sophisticated" more in specialized books, and "intricate" more in non-specialized books. What's the difference?

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General reference. Apart from the fact that both words have many meanings barely connected with any meanings of the other, difficult implies difficult to understand for the person calling it so. It's quite possible to say something is sophisticated in the sense of "complex" even if you personally are quite able to follow it. –  FumbleFingers Feb 15 '12 at 17:01
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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, tenfour, MετάEd, Daniel, simchona Feb 15 '12 at 20:09

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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"Sophisticated" and "intricate" can both mean "complex" when used to describe an electronic or mechanical device, or a human institution. "This software product uses sophisticated encryptian software." "The clock has a sophisticated self-regulating mechanism." "Ruritania has a sophisticated parliamentary government." In all of those cases you could substitute "intricate" with no discernable change in meaning.

Maybe "sophisticated" has a positive connotation while "intricate" is more neutral. If you are trying to say that something is TOO complex, you would be more likely to say "intricate" than "sophisticated". But that's pretty subtle.

So in general, in this context I think they're pretty much synonymous.

Note "sophisticated" has another meaning, "not naive, wise in the ways of the world". You can say, "Jane was very innocent and naive in school but since she got a job and moved to the big city she has become very sophisticated." You wouldn't say "intricate" there.

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Thanks for this valuable info. –  iSun Feb 15 '12 at 18:16
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