in·​trin·​sic | \in-ˈtrin-zik, -ˈtrin(t)-sik\

Definition of intrinsic 

1a : belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing the intrinsic worth of a gem the intrinsic brightness of a star

b : being or relating to a semiconductor in which the concentration of charge carriers is characteristic of the material itself instead of the content of any impurities it contains

2a : originating or due to causes within a body, organ, or part an intrinsic metabolic disease

b : originating and included wholly within an organ or part intrinsic muscles — compare extrinsic sense 1b

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Other Words from intrinsic

intrinsically \ in-​ˈtrin-​zi-​k(ə-​)lē , -​ˈtrin(t)-​si-​ \ adverb

Examples of intrinsic in a Sentence

He is the ideal courtier. His nobility is intrinsic, and so he can drape himself in this purple cloak of tasteful modernity, make a cocktail of past and present, the cream of both. — Noah Charney, The Art Thief, 2007 Subatomic particles have an intrinsic orientation known as spin, which can point in one of two directions, conventionally called "up" and "down." — Abraham Loeb, Scientific American, November 2006 Yet despite the digital culture's endless celebrations of diversity … there is a certain mindless repetition intrinsic to the Internet, where ideas and software multiply a thousandfold with one click; where the lure of wider communication drives users toward an ultimate "interoperability" and, hence, toward an ultimate uniformity. — Julian Dibbell, Harper's, August 2001 the intrinsic value of a gem the intrinsic brightness of a star
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Recent Examples on the Web

This astrological placement sheds light on your intrinsic gifts, as well as your blind spots. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "Each Zodiac Sign's Unique Personality Traits, Explained by an Astrologer," 28 Oct. 2018 The definition of a planet should be based on its intrinsic properties, the scientist said, as opposed to properties that can change, such as the dynamics of its orbit. James Rogers, Fox News, "Pluto should be a planet again, researchers argue," 10 Sep. 2018 In the eyes of Brussels, data privacy is an intrinsic human right, and therefore should be under the control of the individual user. Ian Bremmer, Time, "Europe's New Privacy Law Takes Effect Today. Here's How the World Is Handling Digital Rights," 25 May 2018 Her delight in clothing and adornment is never a distraction from her art, but instead an intrinsic part of it. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Behind the Personal Branding of Frida Kahlo," 18 June 2018 Internet Gaming Disorder’s inclusion in the DSM drew concern from gamers, who objected to the implication that their hobby was an intoxicant and therefore an intrinsic danger. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Why Is There a ‘Gaming Disorder’ But No ‘Smartphone Disorder?’," 28 June 2018 That’s intrinsic to the difference in the two sports: Football has 22 starters, plus a slew of specialists. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "How about Seth Curry as a Charlotte Hornet? Would Steph’s brother help hometown team?," 6 June 2018 Style-wise, Thomson-Spires and Brinkley go about rendering the paradoxes intrinsic to contemporary black life via very different means. Brittany Allen, Longreads, "Masters of Contradiction," 24 May 2018 Each room and suite has a large ofuro – a deep soaking tub intrinsic to the Japanese ritual of bathing. Scott Gilman, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to Japan," 5 Oct. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intrinsic.' 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 intrinsic

1635, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for intrinsic

French intrinsèque internal, from Late Latin intrinsecus, from Latin, adverb, inwardly; akin to Latin intra within — more at intra-

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Statistics for intrinsic

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for intrinsic

The first known use of intrinsic was in 1635

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More Definitions for intrinsic



English Language Learners Definition of intrinsic

: belonging to the essential nature of a thing : occurring as a natural part of something


in·​trin·​sic | \in-ˈtrin-zik, -ˈtrin(t)-sik \

Medical Definition of intrinsic 

1 : originating or due to causes or factors within a body, organ, or part intrinsic asthma

2 : originating and included wholly within an organ or part used especially of certain muscles the cricothyroid is an intrinsic muscle of the larynx — compare extrinsic sense 2


in·​trin·​sic | \in-ˈtrin-zik, -sik \

Legal Definition of intrinsic 

: belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing

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