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

Such a viewpoint ignores the intrinsic value of lunar resources, Neal said, in the form of water ice at the poles, as well as the lunar soil which can be broken into oxygen, titanium, silicates and more. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "With Artemis, NASA at risk of repeating Apollo mistakes, scientist warns," 20 Aug. 2019 Instead, the patterning system had its own intrinsic scale, one that didn’t adjust to the overall size of the cell. Quanta Magazine, "For Embryo’s Cells, Size Can Determine Fate," 12 Aug. 2019 The stars’ light waxes and wanes at a rate that signals their intrinsic brightness. Joshua Sokol, Science | AAAS, "Debate intensifies over speed of expanding universe," 19 July 2019 And while European systems and services can still fall back to other timing and navigation options, like GPS, the prolonged outage serves as a chilling reminder of the modern world's intrinsic reliance on fallible global positioning systems. Wired, "Europe's Weeklong Satellite Outage Is Over—But Still Serves as a Warning," 18 July 2019 On a cellular level, added fibers looks pretty similar to intrinsic fibers, so our bodies process—or, rather, don’t process—them in largely the same way, Tewksbury says. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Why Is Added Fiber in Literally Everything?," 12 July 2019 Despite its formidable distance, it is still ranked as the 15th brightest star in the night sky because of its powerful intrinsic luminosity—2,300 times brighter than our sun. Andrew Fazekas, National Geographic, "Saturn at its best, and more top stargazing events in July," 1 July 2019 And if anything, taking that time apart has re-inspired and reignited our bond as sisters and our intrinsic creative voice. Alex Blynn, Billboard, "The Veronicas Return to Music: 'Life Led Us Back Together Again'," 14 June 2019 These pulsate in a rhythm that depends on their intrinsic luminosity. Corey S. Powell, Discover Magazine, "Why We Still Don't Know How Fast the Universe is Expanding," 1 Jan. 2019

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

27 Aug 2019

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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 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

What made you want to look up intrinsic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


recurring in steady succession

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