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 congenitally (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 People with sickle-cell disease, a congenital illness, lack an enzyme that helps the hemoglobin molecules in their blood maintain shape. Ricardo Nuila, The New Yorker, "The Coronavirus Surge That Texas Could Have Seen Coming," 26 June 2020 Of course, the antipathy between players and owners is a congenital issue as old as the game itself. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "MLB finally made progress toward starting a season, but the problems it still faces are staggering," 23 June 2020 But they were not given the drug, and 28 of the original 399 Black men died of syphilis, 100 died of related complications, 40 of their wives were infected, and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis. NBC News, "A COVID-19 vaccine will work only if trials include Black participants, experts say," 17 June 2020 Organizers will share the story of a child with a rare congenital heart defect that underscores the need for the fundraiser. Joan Rusek, cleveland, "Nature centers, campgrounds and park programs reopen: Valley Views," 9 June 2020 Just weeks before welcoming their newborn, the couple opened up in an emotional vlog about finding out that their baby on the way has the same congenital heart defect as Phil. Claudia Harmata,, "YouTubers Phil and Alex Congelliere Welcome a Daughter After Years of Infertility: 'What a Miracle'," 1 June 2020 But unlike the more generalised genomic influences on health—those to which everyone is heir, but few know about—people with serious congenital diseases have no escape or respite; their symptoms are inescapable. The Economist, "Congenital diseases reveal a lot about human biology," 12 Mar. 2020 His 31-year-old daughter had been using THC to ease pain related to a congenital disease, Mr. Dillon said. Talal Ansari, WSJ, "Vaping-Related Deaths Fall, But Families Still Look for Answers," 9 Feb. 2020 Before she was born in February, according to Cook Children’s, the baby was diagnosed in utero with a congenital heart disease. Dallas News, "6 things to know about Tinslee Lewis, the Fort Worth infant on life support at Cook Children’s," 4 Jan. 2020

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

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Congenital.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for congenital


How to pronounce congenital (audio)

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 congenitally (audio) \ adverb

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