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 While he is deeply influenced by French history and 17th-century Flemish and Dutch masters, Banchereau’s approach is modern, spontaneous and intuitive. New York Times, "T Black Book: Florists," 18 Nov. 2020 Not to mention, the couple has a wildly spontaneous and fast-paced history. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "Tarek El Moussa and Heather Rae Young May Have Secretly Eloped," 17 Nov. 2020 The support for Anthony was spontaneous and not comparable to the formation of a militia. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Paramilitaries? Terrorists? What should militia groups be called?," 10 Oct. 2020 Still, Viačorka said the spontaneous and agile style of the Hong Kong protests has proved effective against Belarusian authorities who for decades have had to deal with only traditional demonstrations. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, "How Protest Tactics Travel," 26 Aug. 2020 This spontaneous and collective form of public communication has brought new life to the historical idea of public space as a place for expression, dialogue and assembly, a concept dating back to the Greek agora. Jeff Hou, Smithsonian Magazine, "Hong Kong’s Sticky-Note Revolution," 24 Jan. 2020 The results were fun, spontaneous, and low-fi, a winning contrast to the perfection and glam of red carpets in the Before Times. Emily Farra, Vogue, "The Year in Fashion: The 29 Moments We’ll Remember Most From 2020," 28 Dec. 2020 Yet Keravuori is indebted to abstract expressionism, which extolled the spontaneous and the immediate. Washington Post, "In the galleries: The Washington colorists and the CIA," 20 Nov. 2020 A College of Lake County sophomore then, her first frigid dip was spontaneous. Steve Sadin, chicagotribune.com, "Virtual Polar Bear Plunge offers more options to participate, raise money for special recreation," 24 Dec. 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

1605, 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 1605

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Last Updated

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spontaneous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spontaneous. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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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