Synonym Chooser

How is the word instinctive distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of instinctive are automatic, impulsive, mechanical, and spontaneous. While all these words mean "acting or activated without deliberation," instinctive stresses action involving neither judgment nor will.

blinking is an instinctive reaction

When is automatic a more appropriate choice than instinctive?

In some situations, the words automatic and instinctive are roughly equivalent. However, automatic implies action engaging neither the mind nor the emotions and connotes a predictable response.

his denial was automatic

When might impulsive be a better fit than instinctive?

The meanings of impulsive and instinctive largely overlap; however, impulsive implies acting under stress of emotion or spirit of the moment.

impulsive acts of violence

In what contexts can mechanical take the place of instinctive?

The words mechanical and instinctive can be used in similar contexts, but mechanical stresses the lifeless, often perfunctory character of the response.

a mechanical teaching method

Where would spontaneous be a reasonable alternative to instinctive?

While the synonyms spontaneous and instinctive are close in meaning, spontaneous implies lack of prompting and connotes naturalness.

a spontaneous burst of applause

Thesaurus Entries Near instinctive

Cite this Entry

“Instinctive.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

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