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. 2024
How to use instinct in a sentence
People watch night soaps because the genre allows them to believe in a world where people just react off their baser instincts.‘Empire’ Review: Hip-Hop Musical Chairs with an Insane Soap Opera Twist | Judnick Mayard | January 8, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
At such a moment, the pilot has no resources other than his own instincts and experience.Flight 8501 Poses Question: Are Modern Jets Too Automated to Fly? | Clive Irving | January 4, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
So combining my journalistic and more creative instincts was the way to go.Meghan Daum On Tackling The Unspeakable Parts Of Life | David Yaffe | December 6, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
He weighed only 185 pounds, but he had killer instincts and rabbit quickness and the stamina of a mule.Football Great Bob Suffridge Wanders Through the End Zone of Life | Paul Hemphill | September 6, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The problem is that his instincts are wrong, his timing is bad, his hand is heavy.
The arousing of the fundamental instincts of these human beings had, indeed, enormously emphasized the animal in them.Hilda Lessways | Arnold Bennett
"Atavism can hardly explain a roaming animal with teeth and claws and sanguinary instincts," interrupted Maloney with impatience.Three More John Silence Stories | Algernon Blackwood
There were semi-savage native chiefs, and there were others, like Aguinaldo himself, with humane instincts.The Philippine Islands | John Foreman
Like other commonplace mortals, however, my instincts fight for the only solution of happiness I know anything about.Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
I was more than ready to take her place; you actually stirred my maternal instincts when you arrived, you looked so forlorn.Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
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.