- The definition of instinct is something you just know or sense.
When a dog gives birth to puppies and immediately just begins to nurse, this is an example of when the mother dog acts on instinct.
- (an) inborn tendency to behave in a way characteristic of a species; natural, unlearned, predictable response to stimuli: suckling is an instinct in mammals
- a natural or acquired tendency, aptitude, or talent; bent; knack; gift: an instinct for doing the right thing
- Psychoanalysis a primal psychic force or drive, as fear, love, or anger; specif., in Freudian analysis, either the life instinct (Eros) or the death instinct (Thanatos)
Origin of instinct; from Classical Latin instinctus, past participle of instinguere, to impel, instigate ; from in-, in + an unverified form stinguere, to prick: for Indo-European base see stick
- An inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli: the spawning instinct in salmon; altruistic instincts in social animals.
- A powerful motivation or impulse.
- An innate capability or aptitude: an instinct for tact and diplomacy.
- Deeply filled or imbued: words instinct with love.
- Obsolete Impelled from within.
Origin of instinctMiddle English, from Latin īnstīnctus, impulse, from past participle of īnstinguere, to incite : in-, intensive pref.; see in–2 + stinguere, to prick; see steig- in Indo-European roots.
(countable and uncountable, plural instincts)
(comparative more instinct, superlative most instinct)
- (archaic) Imbued, charged (with something).
From Latin instinctus, past participle of instinguere (“to incite, to instigate”), from in (“in, on”) + stinguere (“to prick”)