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Webster 1913 Edition


Instinct

In-stinct′

,
Adj.
[L.
instinctus
, p. p. of
instinguere
to instigate, incite; cf.
instigare
to instigate. Cf.
Instigate
,
Distinguish
.]
Urged or stimulated from within; naturally moved or impelled; imbued; animated; alive; quick;
as, birds
instinct
with life
.
The chariot of paternal deity . . .
Itself
instinct
with spirit, but convoyed
By four cherubic shapes.
Milton.
A noble performance,
instinct
with sound principle.
Brougham.

In′stinct

(ĭn′stĭṉkt)
,
Noun.
[L.
instinctus
instigation, impulse, fr.
instinguere
to instigate: cf. F.
instinct
. See
Instinct
,
Adj.
]
1.
Natural inward impulse; unconscious, involuntary, or unreasoning prompting to any mode of action, whether bodily, or mental, without a distinct apprehension of the end or object to be accomplished.
An
instinct
is a propensity prior to experience, and independent of instructions.
Paley.
An
instinct
is a blind tendency to some mode of action, independent of any consideration, on the part of the agent, of the end to which the action leads.
Whately.
An
instinct
is an agent which performs blindly and ignorantly a work of intelligence and knowledge.
Sir W. Hamilton.
By a divine
instinct
, men’s minds mistrust
Ensuing dangers.
Shakespeare
2.
(Zool.)
Specif., the natural, unreasoning, impulse by which an animal is guided to the performance of any action, without thought of improvement in the method.
The resemblance between what originally was a habit, and an
instinct
becomes so close as not to be distinguished.
Darwin.
3.
A natural aptitude or knack; a predilection;
as, an
instinct
for order; to be modest by
instinct
.

In-stinct′

(ĭn-stĭṉkt′)
,
Verb.
T.
To impress, as an animating power, or instinct.
[Obs.]
Bentley.

Webster 1828 Edition


Instinct

INSTINCT'

,
Adj.
[L. instinctus. See the Noun.]
Moved; animated; excited; as instinct with spirit.
Betulia--instinct with life.

Definition 2022


instinct

instinct

English

Noun

instinct (countable and uncountable, plural instincts)

  1. A natural or inherent impulse or behaviour.
    Many animals fear fire by instinct.
    • Shakespeare
      By a divine instinct, men's minds mistrust / Ensuing dangers.
    • 1921, Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Mind:
      In spite of these qualifications, the broad distinction between instinct and habit is undeniable. To take extreme cases, every animal at birth can take food by instinct, before it has had opportunity to learn; on the other hand, no one can ride a bicycle by instinct, though, after learning, the necessary movements become just as automatic as if they were instinctive.
  2. An intuitive reaction not based on rational conscious thought.
    an instinct for order; to be modest by instinct
    Debbie's instinct was to distrust John.

Derived terms

Translations

Adjective

instinct (comparative more instinct, superlative most instinct)

  1. (archaic) Imbued, charged (with something).
    • Milton
      The chariot of paternal deity [] / Itself instinct with spirit, but convoyed / By four cherubic shapes.
    • Brougham
      a noble performance, instinct with sound principle
    • 1857, Charlotte Brontë, The Professor
      Her eyes, whose colour I had not at first known, so dim were they with repressed tears, so shadowed with ceaseless dejection, now, lit by a ray of the sunshine that cheered her heart, revealed irids of bright hazel – irids large and full, screened with long lashes; and pupils instinct with fire.
    • 1928, HP Lovecraft, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’:
      This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters.

French

Etymology

Borrowed from Latin instinctus.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ɛ̃.stɛ̃/

Noun

instinct m (plural instincts)

  1. instinct

Related terms