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

The human brain is set up to interpret the way things reflect under white light as a nominally true description of their intrinsic color. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "Why We See the Colors of Faces Differently Than Other Things," 8 July 2019 Naturally occurring sugars are intrinsic to the foods they are found in, typically dairy products and fruits. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "How Much Do You Really Need to Worry About Sugar?," 27 June 2019 The fascination with the exotic, soon to manifest in safaris, in Gauguin’s move to Tahiti, and in the market for tribal masks in Paris, was intrinsic to the spread of empire. María Gainza, Harper's magazine, "Both Sides Now," 10 May 2019 The elements of string theory that Joe developed are intrinsic to recent attempts to better understand how inflation happened and why the cosmological constant is so small. Quanta Magazine, "Physicists Mourn Joe Polchinski, Developer of Deep Ideas and Paradoxes," 20 Feb. 2018 Pesäpallo has become an intrinsic part of the culture in villages across Finland, where it's taught to school children and played on fields during the summertime, when the sun almost never sets in northern parts of the Nordic country. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "MLB is making a play for popularity in Europe. But in Finland, they've already made baseball their own," 28 June 2019 Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have no intrinsic value or central oversight, are vulnerable to fraud and burn up electricity and computing power. The Economist, "Facebook wants to create a global currency," 21 June 2019 It positions data as the thing that holds intrinsic value, not the contributions and work of the range of human actors who create it. Anna Lauren Hoffmann, Quartz, "The language we use to describe data can also help us fix its problems," 18 June 2019 Kentridge remains an intrinsic part of South Africa’s creative community. Julie Belcove, WSJ, "William Kentridge Tackles the History of Apartheid and Colonialism in His Latest Production," 4 Dec. 2018

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

16 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for intrinsic

The first known use of intrinsic was in 1635

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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 muscles the 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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Comments on intrinsic

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characterized by aphorism

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