con·​gen·​i·​tal | \ kən-ˈje-nə-tᵊl How to pronounce congenital (audio) , 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 How to pronounce congenital (audio) , kän-​ \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for congenital



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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 The death last June of an infant boy in the Moorhead area was linked to COVID-19, as well as the death this February of a 7-year-old Clara City girl who had a congenital neurological condition. Jeremy Olson, Star Tribune, "Minnesota reports third COVID-19 death of a child," 26 Apr. 2021 Some scientists now use blastocysts donated from fertility clinics for research into the causes of infertility and congenital diseases. NBC News, "Scientists say they've peeked into the 'black box' of early human development," 17 Mar. 2021 Some scientists now use blastocysts donated from fertility clinics for research into the causes of infertility and congenital diseases. Christina Larson, Anchorage Daily News, "Scientists use human cells to make structures that mimic earliest stages of development," 17 Mar. 2021 That's when doctors discovered a congenital spinal defect right where the football player drove his boot, and he was sent home with a medical discharge. Star Tribune, "Speedskater Robert Fitzgerald penned unparalleled comeback story," 10 Apr. 2021 Premature newborns, or newborns with congenital heart, lung, or neurologic issues can be placed on ventilators via tiny plastic breathing tubes, often not much wider than a cocktail straw, for months at a time. Nina Shapiro, Forbes, "Woman Takes A Deep Breath After First Successful Tracheal Transplant," 6 Apr. 2021 Other groups that are eligible include people with certain congenital medical conditions, law-enforcement officers, childcare workers and funeral-services employees. Jeanne Houck, The Enquirer, "New Clermont County COVID-19 vaccination site to double number of people served daily to 600," 12 Mar. 2021 But a blood test detected an abnormality, leading doctors to diagnose the baby with a rare but serious congenital heart defect called transposition of the great arteries, or TGA. Mark Joyella, Forbes, "NBC News Correspondent Carol Lee Reveals Her Unborn Son Will Need Open Heart Surgery At Just 3 Days Old," 11 Mar. 2021 And then there are people like me, congenital anosmics who were born with no sense of smell. Sharon Waters, SELF, "6 Ways to Cope With Having No Sense of Smell (From Coronavirus or Anything Else)," 3 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for congenital

Time Traveler

The first known use of congenital was in 1796

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Statistics for congenital

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Congenital.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for congenital



English Language Learners Definition of congenital

: existing since birth
informal : naturally having a specified character


con·​gen·​i·​tal | \ kän-ˈjen-ə-tᵊl How to pronounce congenital (audio) \

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 How to pronounce congenital (audio) \ adverb

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