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

Woodstock became a kind of spontaneous, mass commune. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Woodstock, Manson and the march to Utopia," 13 Aug. 2019 But dealing with an egg in a lab is a lot harsher on the egg than a spontaneous pregnancy. Halley Bondy, NBC News, "5 top fertility myths debunked by Dr. Jennifer Gunter," 13 Aug. 2019 The president and other national leaders might take both literally and seriously the spontaneous chant that erupted from the crowd when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine appeared at a vigil for the dead in Dayton: Do something. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "How to Reduce Gun Violence: Ask Some Scientists," 6 Aug. 2019 The conventional view of the festival depicts it as a somewhat spontaneous gathering in a dairy farmer’s pasture, but the PBS documentary demonstrates the planning and promotional effort involved. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Why Woodstock Can Never Happen Again," 6 Aug. 2019 Family and friends gathered at the scene of the crash later Thursday for a spontaneous memorial. Wayne K. Roustan, sun-sentinel.com, "Driver is killed in Miramar when SUV plows through construction site, police say," 1 Aug. 2019 The photo was completely spontaneous, according to Jace's father, Joe Vega. Danny Hermosillo, Houston Chronicle, "Viral photo shows 6-year-old saluting sailors at Texas airport," 23 July 2019 Shannon wandered the convention alongside them from morning to evening on Friday, capturing spontaneous, sometimes humorously banal, moments with her Canon Mark IV and off-camera flash. Laura Mallonee, WIRED, "Comic-Con's Unexpectedly Great Cosplay Moments," 22 July 2019 What began as spontaneous protests last December due to sluggish economic growth turned into a massive peaceful uprising that ended with the removal in April of one of Africa’s longest-serving dictators, Omar al-Bashir. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "Sudan’s street protests have inspired another revolution—in art," 12 July 2019

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

19 Aug 2019

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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 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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