Wise, sage, sapient, judicious, prudent, sensible, sane are comparable when they mean having or manifesting the power to recognize the best ends and the best means to attain those ends.
Wise applies to one or the acts or views of one who is so discerning in his understanding of persons, conditions, or situations that he knows how to deal with them, how to correct what is wrong in them, how to get the best out of them considering their limitations or difficulties, or how to estimate them fairly and accurately; often also the term implies a wide range of experience or of knowledge or learning.
Sage characterizes one who is eminently wise and typically philosophical by temperament and experience. The term can suggest a habit of profound reflection upon men and events and an ability to reach conclusions of universal as well as immediate value, and has been applied chiefly to persons and utterances that are venerated for their wisdom and good counsel.
In somewhat lighter use sage often suggests the affectation or the appearance of great wisdom or knowledge, whether the matters concerned be of significance or not.
Sapient describes one exhibiting the utmost sagacity, but often the term is used ironically to imply a mere hollow sham of such sagacity.
Judicious applies to one who is capable of arriving at wise decisions or just conclusions; the term usually suggests the ability to distinguish fact from falsehood and to eliminate all bias so that one’s judgments are fair, well-balanced, and level-headed as well as sound.
Prudent (see under PRUDENCE ) ( PRUDENT 3 ) applies to one who is so rich in practical wisdom that he is able to keep himself, his passions, and his actions under control and obedient to what he knows as right and necessary. In this sense prudent implies the use of one’s reason in the attainment of the moral virtue that leads to right living, as distinguished from its use in the attainment of knowledge of things which transcend experience.
Sensible (see also AWARE PERCEPTIBLE MATERIAL ) describes one who in speech or action does not exceed the bounds of common sense or of good sense; the term suggests a display of intelligence rather than of wisdom and of natural reasonableness rather than the exercise of the reason.
Sane characterizes one who shows healthy-mindedness and level-headedness in prudent, judicious, or sensible acts and words.