in·​nate | \i-ˈnāt, ˈi-ˌnāt\

Definition of innate 

1 : existing in, belonging to, or determined by factors present in an individual from birth : native, inborn innate behavior

2 : belonging to the essential nature of something : inherent

3 : originating in or derived from the mind or the constitution of the intellect rather than from experience

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Other Words from innate

innately adverb
innateness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for innate

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 innate in a Sentence

… the delays innate in both serial and book publication … — Walter Rundell, American Association of University Professors Bulletin, September 1971 … the materials for conflict are innate to social life. — Richard Sennett, Psychology Today, November 1970 The faculty for myth is innate in the human race. — W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, 1919 She has an innate sense of rhythm. the innate problems of wireless communication
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Recent Examples on the Web

If identical people are raised in different environments by different parents, what can that tell us about the degree to which our behaviors, personalities, health, and intelligence are innate or acquired? Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Three Identical Strangers Revisits a Shadowy Scientific Conspiracy," 29 June 2018 Living with an innate sense that no man deserves you?, "The Black Girl's Summer 2018 Playlist," 13 July 2018 One of the most popular of these is called the biophilia hypothesis, which argues that humans have an innate desire to seek connections with nature. Ben Tobin, USA TODAY, "Desk, swivel chair, trees: Why companies are moving the office outdoors," 28 June 2018 His life, as Apatow presents it, was defined by great loss and by singular joy, by generosity and by flashes of rage, by a spiritual desire to abandon his ego and by the performer’s innate desire for applause. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling Is a Eulogy Worth Watching," 28 Mar. 2018 The fact that our dogs’ very appearances trigger our innate desire to care for them is a key reason so many people keep them as pets. Abigail Marsh, Washington Post, "James Corden had one thing right: We’re neurologically wired to love puppies," 20 Feb. 2018 Speaking like this is innate and universal to all humans, notes Hall. NBC News, "Baby talk: It may be annoying, but it's a sign of a strong relationship," 10 June 2018 But unlike Newton’s Laws, the rule of law was neither innate nor inevitable. Katie Reilly, Time, "Read Jeff Flake's Commencement Speech on the Rule of Law and Trump: 'We May Have Hit Bottom'," 23 May 2018 The two bring backgrounds in fashion—Anna in childrenswear and knitwear after a stint studying pre-med and Valerie in lingerie with an innate talent for illustration and painter. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "4 Chic Fashion Brands Doing Things Right, Right Now," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'innate.' 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 innate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for innate

Middle English innat, from Latin innatus, past participle of innasci to be born in, from in- + nasci to be born — more at nation

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Dictionary Entries near innate

in name

in name only






Statistics for innate

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for innate

The first known use of innate was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for innate



English Language Learners Definition of innate

: existing from the time a person or animal is born

: existing as part of the basic nature of something


in·​nate | \in-ˈāt, ˈin-ˌ \

Medical Definition of innate 

: existing in, belonging to, or determined by factors present in an individual from birth : native, inborn innate behavior

Other Words from innate

innately adverb
innateness noun

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