1. Of, relating to, or prompted by instinct: an instinctive ability to build a nest.
a. Arising from impulse or natural inclination; done without thought or conscious effort; spontaneous: an instinctive sympathy for the downtrodden.
b. Being such by natural inclination rather than conscious effort or study: "Both men were instinctive masters at seizing unexpected openings and turning them into victories" (Nick Kotz).
Synonyms: instinctive, instinctual, intuitive, visceral
These adjectives refer to things that arise from a natural tendency or impulse: an instinctive desire to help others; an instinctual respect for authority; an intuitive feeling that something is wrong; a visceral reaction to the scandalous news.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.