1. coming or resulting from a natural impulse or tendency; without effort or premeditation; natural and unconstrained; unplanned: a spontaneous burst of applause.
  2. (of a person) given to acting upon sudden impulses.
  3. (of natural phenomena) arising from internal forces or causes; independent of external agencies; self-acting.
  4. growing naturally or without cultivation, as plants and fruits; indigenous.
  5. produced by natural process.

Origin of spontaneous

1650–60; < Late Latin spontāneus, equivalent to Latin spont(e) willingly + -āneus (-ān(us) -an + -eus -eous)
Related formsspon·ta·ne·ous·ly, adverbspon·ta·ne·ous·ness, nounnon·spon·ta·ne·ous, adjectivenon·spon·ta·ne·ous·ly, adverbnon·spon·ta·ne·ous·ness, nounsem·i·spon·ta·ne·ous, adjectivesem·i·spon·ta·ne·ous·ly, adverbsem·i·spon·ta·ne·ous·ness, nounsub·spon·ta·ne·ous, adjectivesub·spon·ta·ne·ous·ly, adverbsub·spon·ta·ne·ous·ness, nounun·spon·ta·ne·ous, adjectiveun·spon·ta·ne·ous·ly, adverbun·spon·ta·ne·ous·ness, noun

Synonyms for spontaneous

Synonym study

Antonyms for spontaneous

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for subspontaneous

Historical Examples of subspontaneous

  • Authors who have seen the species in the East do not hesitate to say that it is subspontaneous.

    Origin of Cultivated Plants

    Alphonse De Candolle

  • Many floras of the south of Europe speak of it as a subspontaneous or naturalized species.

    Origin of Cultivated Plants

    Alphonse De Candolle

  • Usually they indicate the carob tree, as cultivated and subspontaneous, or nearly wild.

    Origin of Cultivated Plants

    Alphonse De Candolle

British Dictionary definitions for subspontaneous


  1. (of a plant species, such as rhododendron) spreading naturally after having originally been introduced


  1. occurring, produced, or performed through natural processes without external influencespontaneous movement
  2. arising from an unforced personal impulse; voluntary; unpremeditateda spontaneous comment
  3. (of plants) growing naturally; indigenous
Derived Formsspontaneously, adverbspontaneousness, noun

Word Origin for spontaneous

C17: from Late Latin spontāneus, from Latin sponte voluntarily
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 subspontaneous



1650s, from Late Latin spontaneus "willing, of one's free will," from Latin (sua) sponte "of one's own accord, willingly;" of unknown origin. Related: Spontaneously. Earliest use is of persons and characters. Spontaneous combustion first attested 1795. Spontaneous generation (the phrase, not the event) attested from 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper