an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.
a natural or innate impulse, inclination, or tendency.
a natural aptitude or gift: an instinct for making money.
natural intuitive power.
Other definitions for instinct (2 of 2)
filled or infused with some animating principle (usually followed by with): instinct with life.
Obsolete. animated by some inner force.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use instinct in a sentence
It could have made Tristan question everything he was doing and doubt all of his instincts.‘How I Built This’ host Guy Raz on insights from some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs | Rachel King | September 15, 2020 | Fortune
We definitely knew it was about the human instinct for companionship and love, and the human instinct for a social contract — believing and trusting people.“People want to believe”: How Love Fraud builds an absorbing docuseries around a romantic con man | Alissa Wilkinson | September 4, 2020 | Vox
I think it’s got a lot of great knowledge on how to keep yourself safe and trust your instincts.Full Transcript: Tomi Lahren on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’ | Daniel Malloy | August 31, 2020 | Ozy
Perhaps you have an instinct that analyzing a certain data set would yield interesting results.Want media coverage? Make sure your content is emotional | Amanda Milligan | August 7, 2020 | Search Engine Watch
“I have a survivalist instinct,” said Ben, a 28-year-old New Yorker.
Certainly my instinct is to identify with the police, no matter the circumstance.A Veteran’s View: NYC Cold War Between Cops and City Hall | Matt Gallagher | December 29, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
In a flash he deflects the shot, with the speed of instinct, right past the goalkeeper.
The human desire for knowledge and exploration is an absolute good, and we need to follow that instinct.Christopher Nolan Uncut: On ‘Interstellar,’ Ben Affleck’s Batman, and the Future of Mankind | Marlow Stern | November 10, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Perhaps his conservative political instinct will ultimately keep Murdoch from plunging fully into the yes camp.Freeeeedom! Hollywood Fights for Scottish Independence | Nico Hines | September 15, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
It seems to be a true instinct which comes before education and makes education possible.Children's Ways | James Sully
Imitation of the ways of their elders doubtless plays a part here, but it is aided by an instinct for adornment.Children's Ways | James Sully
Long before reason found the answer, instinct—swift, merciless interpreter—told him plainly.The Wave | Algernon Blackwood
From the movement behind him Marius guessed almost by instinct that Garnache had drawn back for a lunge.St. Martin's Summer | Rafael Sabatini
He believes, he has an instinct, that here is the heel of the German Colossus, otherwise immune to our arrows.Gallipoli Diary, Volume I | Ian Hamilton
British Dictionary definitions for instinct
the innate capacity of an animal to respond to a given stimulus in a relatively fixed way
inborn intuitive power
a natural and apparently innate aptitude
rare (postpositive often foll by with)
animated or impelled (by)
imbued or infused (with)
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
Scientific definitions for instinct
An inherited tendency of an organism to behave in a certain way, usually in reaction to its environment and for the purpose of fulfilling a specific need. The development and performance of instinctive behavior does not depend upon the specific details of an individual's learning experiences. Instead, instinctive behavior develops in the same way for all individuals of the same species or of the same sex of a species. For example, birds will build the form of nest typical of their species although they may never have seen such a nest being built before. Some butterfly species undertake long migrations to wintering grounds that they have never seen. Behavior in animals often reflects the influence of a combination of instinct and learning. The basic song pattern of many bird species is inherited, but it is often refined by learning from other members of the species. Dogs that naturally seek to gather animals such as sheep or cattle into a group are said to have a herding instinct, but the effective use of this instinct by the dog also requires learning on the dog's part. Instinct, as opposed to reflex, is usually used of inherited behavior patterns that are more complex or sometimes involve a degree of interaction with learning processes.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Cultural definitions for instinct
Behavior that is not learned but passed between generations by heredity.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.