spontaneous

adjective
spon·​ta·​ne·​ous | \spän-ˈtā-nē-əs \

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

Subtle details of tempo and phrasing kept everything sounding spontaneous, aided at each turn by the BSO’s supple response. Tim Smith, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore Symphony in colorful form with Stenz, Steinbacher," 7 Apr. 2018 In a spontaneous moment at his office in 2010, Charlie Cinnamon stood beside his 1976 portrait by artist Martin Kreloff and recreated the original pose. Steve Rothaus, miamiherald, "At last, the story is now all about late 'legendary press agent' Charlie Cinnamon," 11 June 2018 The cameras were there—something tells me this wasn't the most spontaneous moment. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Vanderpump Rules' Jax and Brittany Are Engaged, so Good Luck to Them," 8 June 2018 Starting with @kimkardashian, her mother @krisjenner and daughter North West, who for the first time share a different side of their personalities through a series of candid and spontaneous shots. Matthew Wilson, USA TODAY, "North West makes modeling debut alongside mom Kim Kardashian West and grandma Kris Jenner," 10 July 2018 Yet what distinguishes the Trump era’s turbulence is the sheer number of his deputies — many of them largely anonymous before his inauguration — who have become the focus of planned and sometimes spontaneous public fury. Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post, "‘Viciousness’: Trump aides endure public fury toward president’s policies," 9 July 2018 So the idea was to have the three or four products that in a flash help sublimate a face with very simple and spontaneous gestures. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "L’Oréal Collaborates With Ultimate French Tastemaker," 14 June 2018 The Estonians are exploring monuments — both official and spontaneous. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "The women at the helm of 2018's Venice Architecture Biennale and the unexpected generosity of design," 31 May 2018 What began years ago as a spontaneous outburst of emotion now feels awkward and forced, like everything else the league stages. Conor Orr, SI.com, "The Goodell Hug: Time To Let Go," 25 Apr. 2018

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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Last Updated

28 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for spontaneous

The first known use of spontaneous was in 1653

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More Definitions for spontaneous

spontaneous

adjective

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 \

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 \

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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