in·​trin·​sic | \ in-ˈtrin-zik How to pronounce intrinsic (audio) , -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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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 That is finding coffee varieties that possess some intrinsic resistance to the pathogen and crossbreeding them to produce new varieties that are less vulnerable to the disease. Maryn Mckenna, The Atlantic, "Coffee Is Under Attack," 16 Sep. 2020 In contrast, the scientist’s naturalistic universe offers neither an intrinsic moral order nor a final reward, which can be unsettling for the devout and in conflict with their faith. Adrian Bardon, The Conversation, "Faith and politics mix to drive evangelical Christians’ climate change denial," 9 Sep. 2020 Football was looking at the pain intrinsic in the sport as a gift, something worth fighting through in order to build one’s character. Star Tribune, "Book excerpt: In death, difficulties of a football life are revealed," 6 Sep. 2020 What’s the difference in intrinsic value between wampum and gold? Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, "Why do humans turn to gold in times of crisis? It's just metal," 28 Aug. 2020 Given that gospel, blues, and soul are intrinsic to Americana as a musical genre, the discussion plans to address the problematic issue and how it can be remedied. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Americana Music Association to Host Panel Covering Black Equity, Racism," 17 Aug. 2020 The locavore movement has long turned the focus inward, toward an appreciation of the state’s intrinsic assets. Gregory Thomas,, "The best place to ride out coronavirus? Can’t beat California," 23 Aug. 2020 The American side of me said that my identity is intrinsic, independent of others. Yiren Lu, Wired, "A Week of Uncontrolled Sobbing at a Chinese Business Seminar," 17 Aug. 2020 Its record over millennia of matching inflation proves that gold indeed has strong intrinsic value because of its scarcity and use in jewelry. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "What’s driving the new gold rush?," 15 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for intrinsic

Time Traveler

The first known use of intrinsic was in 1635

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Statistics for intrinsic

Last Updated

23 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intrinsic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for intrinsic


How to pronounce intrinsic (audio)

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 How to pronounce intrinsic (audio) , -ˈtrin(t)-sik How to pronounce intrinsic (audio) \

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 musclesthe cricothyroid is an intrinsic muscle of the larynx — compare extrinsic sense 2


in·​trin·​sic | \ in-ˈtrin-zik, -sik How to pronounce intrinsic (audio) \

Legal Definition of intrinsic

: belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing

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