Definition of instinct
1 : a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity <had an instinct for the right word>
2 a : 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
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
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 century
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
What made you want to look up instinct? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).