instinct

noun
in·stinct | \ˈin-ˌstiŋ(k)t \

Definition of instinct 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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 reason

b : behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level

instinct

adjective
in·stinct | \in-ˈstiŋ(k)t, ˈin-ˌstiŋ(k)t\

Definition of instinct (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : profoundly imbued : infused my mood, instinct with romance— S. J. Perelman

2 obsolete : impelled by an inner or animating or exciting agency

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Other Words from instinct

Noun

instinctual \in-ˈstiŋ(k)-chə-wəl, -chəl, -shwəl, -chü-əl \ adjective
instinctually adverb

Examples of instinct in a Sentence

Noun

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As such, the male anglerfish barely has a digestive tract to speak of, and no instinct for the hunt. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Why Bioluminescence Evolved to Be Red Light, and Blue," 26 June 2018 The production, directed by Joe Mantello with an unerring instinct for the inherent theatricality of psychological truth, is grounded in inescapable reality. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "'The Humans' at the Ahmanson: Quite possibly the best cast of actors you can see anywhere," 21 June 2018 The war in Yemen was perhaps the first instance of Muhammad bin Salman’s instinct for forceful, if not reckless, behaviour. The Economist, "Insecurity complexGulf states fear being encircled by Iran and abandoned by America," 21 June 2018 Trump, with his instinct for exploiting resentments and exploding norms, has sensed that many Americans are ready to abandon global leadership. George Packer, The New Yorker, "Donald Trump Goes Rogue," 17 June 2018 Those of you who have worked alongside her know that her passion for Nickelodeon is second to none, and her instincts for creating content and experiences kids love have been vital to the brand’s success around the world. Alyssa Newcomb, NBC News, "Apple's big developer conference includes a bunch of new features," 4 June 2018 The two men share more than a few traits: Both are highly gifted marketers and economic nationalists with an instinct for overturning political convention. Juan Montes, WSJ, "‘Tropical Messiah’: A Trump-Style Politician Is Mexican Presidential Front Runner," 30 May 2018 Thoroughly inspired by nature, Oceanside artist Carrie Minikel has an instinct for transforming common objects into quizzical pieces of art that are at once representative and abstract, familiar yet wholly new. Cynthia Zanone, sandiegouniontribune.com, "The irresistibly curious art of Carrie Minikel," 25 May 2018 Kushner has an eerie instinct for this sort of thing. Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Angels,’ a once-prescient masterpiece, returns to its Bay Area birthplace," 15 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Mr. Hickenlooper’s denouncement could serve to highlight for Mrs. Clinton’s team his instinct to battle the rival nominee, an important role that vice-presidential candidates play for the top of the ticket. Maggie Haberman, New York Times, "Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado Rips Donald Trump’s Reaction to Orlando Shooting," 17 June 2016

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.

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First Known Use of instinct

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1667, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for instinct

Noun

Middle English, from Latin instinctus impulse, from instinguere to incite; akin to Latin instigare to instigate

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Phrases Related to instinct

homing instinct

survival instinct

Statistics for instinct

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instinct

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

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More Definitions for instinct

instinct

noun

English Language Learners Definition of instinct

: 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

noun
in·stinct | \ˈin-ˌstiŋkt \

Kids Definition of instinct

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.

instinct

noun
in·stinct | \ˈin-ˌstiŋ(k)t \

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

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Comments on instinct

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a state of commotion or excitement

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