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

They're tied to avoid any hair peeking out or spontaneous unwrapping. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Interview: Halima Aden Explains Why Her Gorgeous New Headscarf Collection Isn't Just for Hijabis," 30 Apr. 2019 Be aware that a decision like this, if done right, isn’t spontaneous. Teen Vogue, "What To Do After High School: 9 Things To Do Besides College," 4 Apr. 2019 Spring has sprung and it’s time to go outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather, and, of course, the occasional spontaneous rain shower. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "35 Spring Instagram Captions for All of Your Sunny Photos," 26 Mar. 2019 For the spontaneous appearance, the Duchess of Sussex wore a navy blazer over a black crew-necked top and black jeans. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Just Made a Surprise Appearance During Prince Harry's Speech at WE Day," 6 Mar. 2019 Watch a clip of Glover's spontaneous performance below. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Childish Gambino Performs an Impromptu Version of 'This Is America' at the 2018 BET Awards," 24 June 2018 Today, interactions between the pope and the cardinal, previously friendly and spontaneous, have become noticeably formal and terse, says a person who has observed them together. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "‘It Will Cause a Scandal.’ The Pope and a Trusted U.S. Cardinal Clash Over Sex-Abuse Crisis," 14 Feb. 2019 The crowd in the Senate chamber burst into spontaneous applause shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday. Christopher Keating, courant.com, "Sen. Linares, Rep. Simmons Announce Baby on Senate Floor," 7 May 2018 There might be spontaneous applause during a round which, like cheering a golfer on a green or a tennis player mid-point, is usually not encouraged. Aly Vance, CNN, "How equestrian clears historic hurdles in Shanghai," 18 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

13 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on spontaneous

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