spontaneous

adjective
spon·​ta·​ne·​ous | \ spän-ˈtā-nē-əs How to pronounce spontaneous (audio) \

Definition of spontaneous

1 : proceeding from natural feeling or native tendency without external constraint
2 : arising from a momentary impulse
3 : controlled and directed internally : self-acting spontaneous movement characteristic of living things
4 : produced without being planted or without human labor : indigenous
5 : developing or occurring without apparent external influence, force, cause, or treatment
6 : not apparently contrived or manipulated : natural

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Other Words from spontaneous

spontaneously adverb
spontaneousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for spontaneous

spontaneous, impulsive, instinctive, automatic, mechanical mean acting or activated without deliberation. spontaneous implies lack of prompting and connotes naturalness. a spontaneous burst of applause impulsive implies acting under stress of emotion or spirit of the moment. impulsive acts of violence instinctive stresses action involving neither judgment nor will. blinking is an instinctive reaction automatic implies action engaging neither the mind nor the emotions and connotes a predictable response. his denial was automatic mechanical stresses the lifeless, often perfunctory character of the response. a mechanical teaching method

Did You Know?

Spontaneous derives, via the Late Latin spontaneus, from the Latin sponte, meaning "of one's free will, voluntarily," and first appeared in English in the mid-17th century. Thomas Hobbes was an early adopter: he wrote that "all voluntary actions … are called also spontaneous, and said to be done by man's own accord" in his famous 1656 The Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity, and Chance. Today the word is more often applied to things done or said in a natural and often sudden way, without a lot of thought or planning—or to people who do or say things in such a way.

Examples of spontaneous in a Sentence

Shane has a lovely habit of paying us spontaneous visits: one time she brought over a jar of a pickle she'd recently put up; another time just a good story or two. — James Oseland, Saveur, December 2006 Cold viruses can damage the olfactory system directly. This loss of smell may last even after the cold is over. Sometimes the sense comes back as suddenly as it disappeared, perhaps because even as adults we generate new olfactory neurons. Spontaneous improvement might be a person's best hope, because there are no real proven treatments for reversing olfactory nerve damage. Harvard Health Letter, September 2001 Peter Jakobsen of the European Space Agency, which built the Faint Object Camera, drew spontaneous applause at the January meeting when he showed an image of supernova SN1987A from the instrument. — Kristin Leutwyler, Scientific American, March 1994 The comment was completely spontaneous. He's a guy who's spontaneous and fun.
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Recent Examples on the Web The reception was warm, spontaneous and much-appreciated by the recipient, Vince Carter. Dallas News, "Rick Carlisle won his 500th game with the Mavericks, but memories of Vince Carter made his eyes light up brightest," 2 Feb. 2020 Everything—not just the borders—is conjured up with delicate, fluid, sweeping strokes, at once spontaneous and disciplined. Karen Wilkin, WSJ, "‘Arabesque’ Review: A Line as Distinctive as It Is Variable," 21 Jan. 2020 The plane trip that Justin Winfrey and Kayla Rodriguez took late last month was just like them: spontaneous and adventurous. Anna Bauman, SFChronicle.com, "It was an adventure into California’s Lost Coast. Now, two friends from San Francisco are missing," 4 Nov. 2019 Most of those blazes appeared to be spontaneous — several of them high-profile and documented on social media. Washington Post, "Teslas still go much farther on a single charge than their competitors. But the strategy carries risks.," 10 Jan. 2020 The protests appear to be spontaneous and without political leadership, organized by people on social media against corruption and lack of basic services, such as electricity and water. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Protests escalate in Iraq: 9 dead, hundreds wounded," 2 Oct. 2019 The protests appear to be spontaneous and without political leadership, organized by people on social media against corruption and lack of basic services, such as electricity and water. Qassim Abdul-zahra, The Denver Post, "Protests escalate in Iraq: 9 dead, hundreds wounded," 2 Oct. 2019 The move, aimed at shutting down the game, was spontaneous, several protesters told The Bee. Tony Bizjak And Anita Chabria, sacbee, "This police protester thought he was busted. He ended up chatting with Vivek Ranadive | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Mar. 2018 There are few flights of fancy or spontaneous improvisations in Porter’s writings to friends—for such a famous wit, there is remarkably little wit. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Pleasure and Pain of Being Cole Porter," 13 Jan. 2020

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

1653, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spontaneous

Late Latin spontaneus, from Latin sponte of one's free will, voluntarily

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Time Traveler for spontaneous

Time Traveler

The first known use of spontaneous was in 1653

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spontaneous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spontaneous. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for spontaneous

spontaneous

adjective
How to pronounce spontaneous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spontaneous

: done or said in a natural and often sudden way and without a lot of thought or planning
: doing things that have not been planned but that seem enjoyable and worth doing at a particular time

spontaneous

adjective
spon·​ta·​ne·​ous | \ spän-ˈtā-nē-əs How to pronounce spontaneous (audio) \

Kids Definition of spontaneous

1 : done, said, or produced freely and naturally spontaneous laughter
2 : acting or taking place without outside force or cause a spontaneous fire

Other Words from spontaneous

spontaneously adverb

spontaneous

adjective
spon·​ta·​ne·​ous | \ spän-ˈtā-nē-əs How to pronounce spontaneous (audio) \

Medical Definition of spontaneous

1 : proceeding from natural feeling or native tendency without external constraint
2 : developing without apparent external influence, force, cause, or treatment a spontaneous nosebleed

Other Words from spontaneous

spontaneously adverb

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Comments on spontaneous

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