Definition of instinct
1 : a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity had an instinct for the right word
2a : a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reasonb : behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level
instinctualplay \in-ˈstiŋ(k)-chə-wəl, -chəl, -shwəl, -chü-əl\ adjective
Examples of instinct in a Sentence
Our first instinct was to run.
Cats possess a natural hunting instinct.
Seeing the baby aroused all her maternal instincts.
He has been guided throughout his career by his political instincts.
Mere instinct alerted her to the danger.
He knew by instinct what not to say.
She seemed to know by instinct that something was wrong.
He has a strong survival instinct.
an athlete with good instincts
Recent Examples of instinct from the Web
Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, the fifth overall pick out of Kentucky, displayed his athleticism and defensive instincts for the Kings.
Although the species are usually enemies in the wild, the rats’ natural instincts turn decidedly maternal in this safe and protective environment.
Kellyanne Conway's political instincts probably would have kept her away too.
Last year, when the slavers attacked Meereen, Daenerys’s first instinct was, to quote the Mad King Aerys, to burn them all.
Secondly, and more important: Jacksonian instincts have been a powerful force for good, as well as evil, throughout American history.
Teachers have good instincts and can tell the good students from the troublemakers; the underachievers from those who are dedicated but may have learning difficulties.
Holiday is a complete player, mixing good size and length, quality scoring instincts, playmaking ability and positive defensive impact.
Dogs are especially bothered by fireworks, which can cause anxiety and trigger flight instincts.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'instinct.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of instinct
Middle English, from Latin instinctus impulse, from instinguere to incite; akin to Latin instigare to instigate
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
First Known Use of instinct
INSTINCT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of instinct for English Language Learners
: a way of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is not learned : a natural desire or tendency that makes you want to act in a particular way
: something you know without learning it or thinking about it
: a natural ability
INSTINCT Defined for Kids
Definition of instinct for Students
1 : an act or course of action in response to a stimulus that is automatic rather than learned It's a cat's instinct to hunt.
2 : a way of knowing something without learning or thinking about it Her instincts told her to wait.
3 : a natural ability He has an instinct for making money.
Medical Definition of instinct
1: a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason
2: behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level
Seen and Heard
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