• synonyms


[ih-neyt, in-eyt]
  1. existing in one from birth; inborn; native: innate musical talent.
  2. inherent in the essential character of something: an innate defect in the hypothesis.
  3. originating in or arising from the intellect or the constitution of the mind, rather than learned through experience: an innate knowledge of good and evil.
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Origin of innate

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin innātus inborn, past participle of innāscī to be born, arise, equivalent to in- in-2 + nāscī to be born; cf. nascent, nativity
Related formsin·nate·ly, adverbin·nate·ness, nounun·in·nate, adjectiveun·in·nate·ly, adverbun·in·nate·ness, noun
Can be confusedinchoate innate (see synonym study at the current entry)


1. natural, congenital. Innate, inborn, congenital, hereditary describe qualities, characteristics, or possessions acquired before or at the time of birth. Innate, of Latin origin, and inborn, a native English word, share the literal basic sense “existing at the time of birth,” and they are interchangeable in most contexts: innate (or inborn ) stodginess, agility, gracefulness. Congenital refers most often to characteristics acquired during fetal development, especially defects or undesirable conditions: a congenital deformity; congenital blindness. Hereditary describes qualities or things passed on from ancestors, either through the genes or by social or legal means: Hemophilia is a hereditary condition; a hereditary title.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for innateness

Historical Examples

  • Innateness: no resemblance to her mother or forerunners on the maternal side.

    A Zola Dictionary

    J. G. Patterson

  • To deny the innateness of ideas was roundly asserted to be materialism and atheism.

  • Perhaps some will be surprised that we do not define the apriorist theory by the hypothesis of innateness.

  • First, precocity, of which we shall later give numerous examples, and which resembles the innateness of instinct.

  • Still, recognizing the innateness of the thing, we look upon such conduct as a natural consequence.

    A Prince of Anahuac

    James A. Porter

British Dictionary definitions for innateness


  1. existing in a person or animal from birth; congenital; inborn
  2. being an essential part of the character of a person or thing
  3. instinctive; not learnedinnate capacities
  4. botany (of anthers) joined to the filament by the base only
  5. (in rationalist philosophy) (of ideas) present in the mind before any experience and knowable by pure reason
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Derived Formsinnately, adverbinnateness, noun

Word Origin

C15: from Latin, from innascī to be born in, from nascī to be born
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for innateness



early 15c., from Late Latin innatus "inborn," past participle of innasci "to be born in, originate in," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + nasci "to be born" (Old Latin gnasci; see genus). Related: Innately.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

innateness in Medicine


(ĭ-nāt, ĭnāt′)
  1. Possessed at birth; inborn.
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Related formsin•nateness n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.