instinctive

adjective
in·​stinc·​tive | \ in-ˈstiŋ(k)-tiv How to pronounce instinctive (audio) \

Definition of instinctive

1 : of, relating to, or being instinct
2 : prompted by natural instinct or propensity : arising spontaneously an instinctive fear of innovation— V. L. Parrington

Other Words from instinctive

instinctively adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for instinctive

Synonyms

Antonyms

  • nonmechanical
Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for instinctive

spontaneous, impulsive, instinctive, automatic, mechanical mean acting or activated without deliberation. spontaneous implies lack of prompting and connotes naturalness. a spontaneous burst of applause impulsive implies acting under stress of emotion or spirit of the moment. impulsive acts of violence instinctive stresses action involving neither judgment nor will. blinking is an instinctive reaction automatic implies action engaging neither the mind nor the emotions and connotes a predictable response. his denial was automatic mechanical stresses the lifeless, often perfunctory character of the response. a mechanical teaching method

Examples of instinctive in a Sentence

Cats have an instinctive desire to hunt. the instinctive reaction of a mother is to protect her children
Recent Examples on the Web Yet, speaking up wasn’t easy or instinctive for her. Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2022 Kennedy was born with an instinctive curiosity and love of food. Christopher Sherman, USA TODAY, 25 July 2022 Only with Russo’s improvisational, instinctive brilliance could the crowd — could the players — relax. New York Times, 26 July 2022 Kennedy was born with an instinctive curiosity and love of food. Christopher Sherman, USA TODAY, 25 July 2022 Kennedy was born with an instinctive curiosity and love of food. Christopher Sherman, ajc, 24 July 2022 Beauty elicits a deep, instinctive need to share — from an early age. Jolene Edgar, Allure, 24 June 2022 This is painting weather, Rauschenberg weather—instinctive, open, and free. David Salle, The New York Review of Books, 13 Dec. 2020 In high school and college, Gorski had been a heady but instinctive player. Wilson Moore, The Indianapolis Star, 28 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'instinctive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of instinctive

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About instinctive

Time Traveler for instinctive

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near instinctive

instinction

instinctive

institor

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for instinctive

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Instinctive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/instinctive. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for instinctive

instinctive

adjective
in·​stinc·​tive | \ in-ˈstiŋk-tiv How to pronounce instinctive (audio) \

Kids Definition of instinctive

: of or relating to instinct : resulting from instinct instinctive behavior

Other Words from instinctive

instinctively adverb

instinctive

adjective
in·​stinc·​tive | \ in-ˈstiŋ(k)-tiv How to pronounce instinctive (audio) \

Medical Definition of instinctive

1 : of, relating to, or being instinct
2 : derived from or prompted by instinct an instinctive fear

Other Words from instinctive

instinctively adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on instinctive

Nglish: Translation of instinctive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of instinctive for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!