instinctive

adjective

in·​stinc·​tive in-ˈstiŋ(k)-tiv How to pronounce instinctive (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or being instinct
2
: prompted by natural instinct or propensity : arising spontaneously
an instinctive fear of innovationV. L. Parrington
instinctively adverb
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 Daniel Deronda, Eliot’s hero, is an appealing young gentleman with an open mind and an instinctive affinity with the oppressed. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, 30 Jan. 2024 His technique of layering snatches of thought, memory, and feeling deftly, in a manner that feels instinctive, makes Shy’s perspective seem not only understandable but inevitable to the reader. Rachel Connolly, The New Republic, 17 July 2023 But something more powerful and instinctive in me is seduced for other reasons. Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2023 Just as the crickets followed their instinctive drive to survive, so too did the information flow, a seemingly unstoppable force of data and perspectives. Ben Lerner, Harper's Magazine, 3 Nov. 2023 Sunak doesn’t seem terribly interested in diplomacy and has stayed strictly within the shadow of the U.S policy response to the crisis and the instinctive sentiment of the Conservative Party, which has become increasingly pro-Israeli since Brexit. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2023 Albert has an instinctive ability to find the comedy in something. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Nov. 2023 Wodehouse, an instinctive anti-realist anarchist, is not only more experimental than Maugham but invariably the more precise stylist. James Wood, The New Yorker, 6 Nov. 2023 The Origins of Dragon Mythology Some scholars have suggested that humans inherited an instinctive fear of snakes from our ancient ancestors, fueling the idea of the dragon. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 30 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'instinctive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near instinctive

Cite this Entry

“Instinctive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/instinctive. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

instinctive

adjective
in·​stinc·​tive in-ˈstiŋ(k)-tiv How to pronounce instinctive (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or being instinct
2
: resulting from or caused by instinct
instinctively adverb

Medical Definition

instinctive

adjective
in·​stinc·​tive in-ˈstiŋ(k)-tiv How to pronounce instinctive (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or being instinct
2
: derived from or prompted by instinct
an instinctive fear
instinctively adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on instinctive

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