in·​sight | \ˈin-ˌsīt \

Definition of insight 

1 : the power or act of seeing into a situation : penetration

2 : the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively

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Choose the Right Synonym for insight

discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind. discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art). the discernment to know true friends discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent. the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling). a novelist of keen perception into human motives penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial. lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy. a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment. a director of reliable box-office acumen

Examples of insight in a Sentence

… I had a big insight and a little insight about the book. — Rust Hills, Esquire, April 1973 … realizing this gave me no insight into how to correct it. — Bartley McSwine, Change, May–June 1971 … might well offer fresh insights as to the character and extent of the social adaptation involved. — George C. Barker, ETC, Summer 1945 He is a leader of great insight. The author analyzes the problem with remarkable insight. I had a sudden insight. Her book provides us with fresh new insights into this behavior.
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Recent Examples on the Web

To improve the exams, who better to ask for insight than women getting them? Macaela Mackenzie, Glamour, "Mammograms Don't Have to Be So Terrible, Thanks to This Breakthrough Screening Technology," 30 Oct. 2018 For insights into the role of global trade, and the consequences of trade disruptions, the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board sought out Alan Wm. Michael Joe Murphy,, "World trade — what everyone needs to know," 11 July 2018 And so, what better way to celebrate this beloved sport and hobby than by catching up with a local expert and asking for some insight? Geoff Bruce, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Angling for answers to fishing questions with owner of Dick's Bait Shop in Delafield," 10 July 2018 The steps leading to government formation give important insights on the evolution of the Italian political system — and indeed on the evolution of European democracies. Filippo Tronconi, Washington Post, "Italy has a new populist government — and a new constitutional headache," 1 June 2018 Jon, Always a pleasure going to the mailbag for some tennis insight. Jon Wertheim,, "Mailbag: Summarizing the First Few Days of the French a Poem," 30 May 2018 In the meantime, the project will shine a bright spotlight on environmental DNA, or eDNA for short—a relatively new field of study that's giving scientists unprecedented insights. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "Loch Ness Monster Hunters to Try DNA Search? Get the Facts.," 23 May 2018 Giving them insights into what people think about their company, correct? Eric Johnson, Recode, "Glassdoor CEO Robert Hohman explains why reviews with sexual harassment allegations don’t get removed," 15 Aug. 2018 The research found that people who can trigger their own goosebumps describe very similar sensations and triggers—and that the interplay between goosebumps and personality could give useful insights into how emotion works. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Creating goosebumps at will may be more interesting than it sounds," 6 Aug. 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for insight

Last Updated

27 Nov 2018

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The first known use of insight was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for insight



English Language Learners Definition of insight

: the ability to understand people and situations in a very clear way

: an understanding of the true nature of something


in·​sight | \ˈin-ˌsīt \

Kids Definition of insight

1 : the ability to understand a person or a situation very clearly

2 : the understanding of the truth of a situation


in·​sight | \ˈin-ˌsīt \

Medical Definition of insight 

1 : understanding or awareness of one's mental or emotional state or condition

2 : immediate and clear understanding (as seeing the solution to a problem or the means to reaching a goal) that takes place without recourse to overt trial-and-error behavior

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