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

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Other Words from congenital

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for congenital


born, natural



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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

While visiting an orphanage in Bangladesh in 1991, Cindy came across baby Bridget who suffered from a severe cleft palette as well as a congenital heart condition. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "How John McCain's Children Were Shaped by His Political Career," 27 Aug. 2018 Since opening in 2009, the theme park has been staffed exclusively by about 100 performers under 130 cm (4ft 3in) tall, most of whom have congenital conditions causing dwarfism. Charlie Campbell / Kunming, Time, "Finding Love in the Kingdom of the Little People," 1 June 2018 Griffin, whose left hand was amputated at age 4 because of amniotic band syndrome, a congenital condition, played very well at weakside linebacker during the minicamp, which concluded Sunday. Geoffrey C. Arnold,, "Seattle Seahawks rookie Shaquem Griffin shines during minicamp," 8 May 2018 Linton was born with most of her left arm missing due to a congenital condition. Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "Watch Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin receive heartwarming message from one-armed girl | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 1 May 2018 For one, the presence of healthy eyelashes can be a sign of overall health; several diseases, disorders, and congenital conditions can cause eyelash loss (sometimes referred to as milphosis or madarosis). Ashley Fetters, The Cut, "What Is the Point of Long Eyelashes?," 30 Apr. 2018 His left hand was amputated at age 4, the result of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome, which had stunted the development of the appendage and caused excruciating pain. Jenny Vrentas,, "Shaquem Griffin’s NFL Story Begins Now," 29 Apr. 2018 In this exclusive sneak peek of the second episode, which goes live later today, Jennifer Fry chronicles her progressive hearing loss caused by a congenital condition. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "New Episode of Dierks Bentley's Apple Music Series Previews 'The Mountain': First Look," 27 Apr. 2018 Didn’t Want to Get Too Close’ to Son Billy at First Kimmel and his wife revealed that their son underwent two heart surgeries after he was born with a congenital heart condition, tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia. Mike Miller,, "Justin Theroux Avoids Running Into Ex Jennifer Aniston at Jimmy Kimmel's Son's Birthday Bash," 23 Apr. 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.

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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

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Statistics for congenital

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for congenital

The first known use of congenital was in 1796

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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

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