in·​her·​ent in-ˈher-ənt How to pronounce inherent (audio)
-ˈhir- How to pronounce inherent (audio)
: involved in the constitution or essential character of something : belonging by nature or habit : intrinsic
risks inherent in the venture
inherently adverb

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Don't Get Stuck on the Meaning of Inherent

Inherent literally refers to something that is "stuck in" something else so firmly that they can't be separated. A plan may have an inherent flaw that will cause it to fail; a person may have inherent virtues that everyone admires. Since the flaw and the virtues can't be removed, the plan may simply have to be thrown out and the person will remain virtuous forever.

Example Sentences

It is one more proof that our world has lost the kind of exquisite sensibility displayed by John Milton when he came up with his definition of poetry. He first wrote "simple, sensual, and passionate," but he was bothered by the grossness inherent in "sensual," and so he invented the word "sensuous." Florence King, National Review, 24 Sept. 2007
There were those who trusted the innate goodness of humanity, and those who believed in its inherent crookedness. Terry Eagleton, Harper's, March 2005
The problem … is inherent and perennial in any democracy, but it has been more severe in ours during the past quarter-century because of the near universal denigration of government, politics and politicians. Michael Kinsley, Time, 29 Oct. 2001
He has an inherent sense of fair play. an inherent concept of justice
Recent Examples on the Web Hence all the '90s references that are inherent to the character. Nick Romano,, 9 May 2023 The series upholds a radical belief in the interior complications of women who want, with every aspect of their being, and who desire to confront the violence done upon their bodies, acknowledging the gore inherent in birth and womanhood. Vulture, 4 May 2023 But somehow, the still-very-real health risks inherent to lingering around certain parts of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone just didn’t sink in with Russian soldiers and their commanding officers based in Belarus, who invaded Ukraine in 2022. Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 3 May 2023 In recent weeks, the inherent challenges of DeSantis’ efforts to appeal to different wings of his party have come into sharper focus. Hannah Knowles, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey And Maeve Reston, The Washington Post, Anchorage Daily News, 20 Apr. 2023 The documents illustrate both the urgency of air defense and its inherent scarcity, said Tom Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who reviewed some of them for The Post. Serhiy Morgunov, Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2023 Yet the process carries an inherent public health risk that the industry has downplayed, and government regulators have all but ignored, even as the list of exposures continues to grow, a USA TODAY investigation found. USA Today, 30 Mar. 2023 The paper seemed to downplay the reciprocity inherent to the Monroe Doctrine—that the U.S. would aim to avoid interfering in other spheres too. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 30 Mar. 2023 Very few cases target the ski resorts where crashes occurred because of the inherent dangers that come with skiing and snowboarding, Los Angeles attorney John Morgan of the firm Morgan & Morgan said. Sam Metz And Christopher Weber, ajc, 29 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inherent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin inhaerent-, inhaerens, present participle of inhaerēre — see inhere

First Known Use

1581, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inherent was in 1581

Dictionary Entries Near inherent

Cite this Entry

“Inherent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​her·​ent in-ˈhir-ənt How to pronounce inherent (audio)
: belonging to or being a part of the nature of a person or thing
an inherent sense of fair play
fluidity is an inherent quality of gas
inherently adverb

Medical Definition


in·​her·​ent in-ˈhir-ənt How to pronounce inherent (audio) in-ˈher- How to pronounce inherent (audio)
: involved in the constitution or essential character of something : belonging by nature
the skin's inherent elasticityKathleen C. Engles
inherently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on inherent

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