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

There was a time when such extravagance was intrinsic to the faith. New York Times, "What’s Faith Got to Do With It?," 18 May 2018 Religious anxiety is intrinsic to Israel and the Palestinian territories, with their tapestry of competing faiths, sects, ethnicities and land claims. NBC News, "Holy Land Christians feel abandoned by U.S. evangelicals," 5 May 2018 In February, Taliq was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic potine glioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the lower back of the brain and decreases nervous system function. Emily Dabau, Good Housekeeping, "Texas Mom Is Asking for Birthday Cards for Her Son Battling Cancer," 17 July 2015 Time and space and the experience of both is intrinsic to the structure, says Escobedo. Giovanna Dunmall, Curbed, "Inside the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion 2018 designed by Frida Escobedo," 15 June 2018 Interestingly, fashion is intrinsic to their efforts. Daisy Melamed Sanders, Marie Claire, "These Two Women Will Give You a Confidence-Infusion," 22 Mar. 2018 Your worth is intrinsic and eternal, no matter what happens in your business. Amber Rae, SELF, "Ask Amber Rae: How Do I Stop Feeling Like a Failure?," 5 Nov. 2018 The Supreme Court has long held that political considerations are permissible and even intrinsic to legislative redistricting. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "North Carolina’s Gerrymander Coup," 30 Aug. 2018 But morality — whether intrinsic or extrinsic — doesn't hinge on the threat or promise of an afterlife or of being saved. Kirsten Clodfelter, Good Housekeeping, "When My Young Daughter Asked If God Was Just a Story, Here's Why I Said Yes," 28 Apr. 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

12 Feb 2019

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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