con·gen·i·tal | \ kən-ˈje-nə-tᵊl , kän- \

Definition of congenital 

1a : existing at or dating from birth congenital deafness

b : constituting an essential characteristic : inherent congenital fear of snakes

c : acquired during development in the uterus and not through heredity congenital syphilis

2 : being such by nature a congenital liar

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from congenital

congenitally \kən-ˈje-nə-tᵊl-ē, kän- \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for congenital


born, natural



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for congenital

innate, inborn, inbred, congenital, hereditary mean not acquired after birth. innate applies to qualities or characteristics that are part of one's inner essential nature. an innate sense of fair play inborn suggests a quality or tendency either actually present at birth or so marked and deep-seated as to seem so. her inborn love of nature inbred suggests something either acquired from parents by heredity or so deeply rooted and ingrained as to seem acquired in that way. inbred political loyalties congenital and hereditary refer to what is acquired before or at birth, the former to things acquired during fetal development and the latter to things transmitted from one's ancestors. a congenital heart murmur eye color is hereditary

Examples of congenital in a Sentence

The irregularity in my backbone is probably congenital. a congenital liar who couldn't speak the truth if his life depended on it

Recent Examples on the Web

Doctors there wanted to transfer to Boston Children’s a newborn baby boy whose heart had been deprived of oxygen during surgery to fix a congenital defect. New York Times, "Dying Organs Restored to Life in Novel Experiments," 10 July 2018 Health department officials are particularly worried about the 30 stillbirths last year caused by congenital syphilis, a 30 percent increase in one year and the highest number since 1995. Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, "Sexually transmitted diseases dramatically increase in California," 14 May 2018 Maya was born without legs because of a condition called congenital amputation. Zeynep Bilginsoy And Mehmet Guzel, Fox News, "Syrian girl born without legs gets new prosthetics in Turkey," 8 July 2018 The figure that caused the greatest alarm for researchers and administrators was 30 stillbirths resulting from congenital syphilis statewide — the highest number reported since 1995, the CDPH said. Christopher Weber, USA TODAY, "STDs reach all-time high in California, leading to spike in stillbirths due to syphilis, state health authorities say," 15 May 2018 The World Cup extrapolates some of these congenital qualities, doubling down on soccer’s winner-takes-all setup. Alejandro Chacoff, The Atlantic, "Soccer Has No Interest in Fairness," 12 July 2018 The camp is presented by the Dave Clark Foundation and will feature athlete and instructor Dave Stevens, a congenital amputee, who is a motivational speaker., "Regional Digest: Black Wolves Trade Kyle Buchanan To San Diego," 2 July 2018 Cancer is extremely rare in newborns and even the first year, but that is when more than 11,000 children will die each year due to complications of pregnancy, congenital anomalies, prematurity and their consequences. Warren Alperstein, M.d., And Judy Schaechter, M.d., miamiherald, "Pediatric cancer: warning signs and symptoms," 18 Apr. 2018 Caleb was born in China with multiple congenital anomalies to his spine and lower extremities that had never been addressed., "The joy of movement restored to one young boy," 12 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'congenital.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of congenital

1796, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for congenital

Latin congenitus, from com- + genitus, past participle of gignere to bring forth — more at kin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about congenital

Share congenital

Statistics for congenital

Last Updated

5 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for congenital

The first known use of congenital was in 1796

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for congenital



English Language Learners Definition of congenital

: existing since birth

: naturally having a specified character


con·gen·i·tal | \ kän-ˈjen-ə-tᵊl \

Medical Definition of congenital 

1 : existing at or dating from birth congenital deafness

2 : acquired during development in the uterus and not through heredity congenital syphilis — compare acquired sense 1, familial, hereditary

Other words from congenital

congenitally \-tᵊl-ē \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on congenital

What made you want to look up congenital? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a magnificent or impressive array

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!