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

Synonyms & Antonyms for spontaneous

Synonyms

Antonyms

  • nonmechanical
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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 Cross country can be immediate and spontaneous, with an eye on being in the moment. Patrick Z. Mcgavin, chicagotribune.com, "Running on plenty: Emerging junior Aidan Oster ‘likes to put himself out there’ for Waubonsie Valley in cross country," 8 Oct. 2020 But government officials also maintain that the violence wasn’t a spontaneous response. Washington Post, "In Colombia, a death in police custody follows a history of brutality," 6 Oct. 2020 Other times, culture emerges by accident, the product of a million spontaneous actions that over time become habits—for better or worse. Doug Mcmillon, Fortune, "Walmart CEO: To tackle today’s challenges, ‘listen with open ears and an open heart’," 6 Oct. 2020 Carnival also draws out hundreds of mobile and often spontaneous street parties, or blocos, that roam the city, playing their own songs or traditional carnival tunes and drawing thousands of revelers in their wake. Manuela Andreoni, New York Times, "The Carnival Parade Is Canceled, and Rio Is Reeling," 30 Sep. 2020 Meantime, police patrolled the regular festival grounds to make sure no spontaneous parties broke out. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Oktoberfest may be canceled in Munich but toned down celebrations are still on," 25 Sep. 2020 Tornado activity is difficult to link to climate change because tornadoes are small and spontaneous compared with hurricanes and cannot generally be produced in large-scale climate models. Thomas Frank, Scientific American, "Migrating Tornadoes Bring Heightened Danger to the Southeast," 24 Sep. 2020 The Lightning the bench broke into a spontaneous celebration perhaps unlike any goal during the playoffs. Stephen Whyno, orlandosentinel.com, "Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos scores in return before leaving in 5-2 victory over Dallas in Game 3," 24 Sep. 2020 The school building bearing the mural was torn down Wednesday afternoon despite a community member, Encanto resident Monica Bernal, holding a spontaneous sit-in protest at the demolition site for about an hour, before being taken away by police. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Protesters fail to save mural from demolition at Logan Heights school," 23 Sep. 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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Statistics for spontaneous

Last Updated

11 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spontaneous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spontaneous. Accessed 22 Oct. 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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