[in-trin-sik, -zik]
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  1. belonging to a thing by its very nature: the intrinsic value of a gold ring.
  2. Anatomy. (of certain muscles, nerves, etc.) belonging to or lying within a given part.
Sometimes in·trin·si·cal.

Origin of intrinsic

1480–90; < Medieval Latin intrinsecus inward (adj.), Latin (adv.), equivalent to intrin- (int(e)r-, as in interior + -im adv. suffix) + secus beside, derivative of sequī to follow
Related formsin·trin·si·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedextraneous external extrinsic internal intrinsic

Synonyms for intrinsic

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Antonyms for intrinsic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for intrinsically



  1. of or relating to the essential nature of a thing; inherent
  2. anatomy situated within or peculiar to a partintrinsic muscles
Derived Formsintrinsically, adverb

Word Origin for intrinsic

C15: from Late Latin intrinsecus from Latin, inwardly, from intrā within + secus alongside; related to sequī to follow
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 intrinsically



late 15c., "interior, inward, internal," from Middle French intrinsèque "inner" (13c.), from Medieval Latin intrinsecus "interior, internal," from Latin intrinsecus (adv.) "inwardly, on the inside," from intra "within" (see intra-) + secus "alongside," originally "following" (related to sequi "to follow;" see sequel). Meaning "belonging to the nature of a thing" is from 1640s. Related: Intrinsicly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

intrinsically in Medicine


  1. Of or relating to the essential nature of a thing.
  2. Situated within or belonging solely to the organ or body part on which it acts. Used of certain nerves and muscles.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.