Definition of spontaneous
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
spontaneous was our Word of the Day on 10/02/2015. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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.
Recent Examples of spontaneous from the Web
His passion for the ocean, his passion for rescuing animals, his passion for helping people and his passion for spontaneous goodwill.
Veteran percussionist/band leader and martial-arts aficionado Abbey Rader delivers a classic melding of jazz arrangements with spontaneous responses by ensemble members to the spirit of the moment.
That’s largely what compelled me and my husband to buy a weekend house there in 2014—a spontaneous indulgence...
Gronkowski is well known for his wit and spontaneous appearances.
During the month after her dad's death, Roussell, already a mom of three girls, became pregnant with spontaneous triplet girls (kids 13-15!) — her nephews,16 and 17, were also conceived during that month.
The day was at once planned and spontaneous, the way all of them were in the summer of 1970.
There’s also always a few pounds of butter, flour, and buttermilk around for spontaneous cakes.
The most impressive solo came from pianist Danae Olano, whose work had shown a classical tinge last year but this time bristled with spontaneous invention.
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.
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.
Origin and Etymology of spontaneous
Late Latin spontaneus, from Latin sponte of one's free will, voluntarily
First Known Use: 1653See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of spontaneous
SPONTANEOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of spontaneous for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
Definition of spontaneous for Students
1 : done, said, or produced freely and naturally spontaneous laughter
2 : acting or taking place without outside force or cause a spontaneous fire
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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up spontaneous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).