Definition of instinct noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈɪnstɪŋkt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈɪnstɪŋkt//
    [uncountable, countable]
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  1. 1instinct (for something/for doing something) | instinct (to do something) a natural tendency for people and animals to behave in a particular way using the knowledge and abilities that they were born with rather than thought or training maternal instincts Children do not know by instinct the difference between right and wrong. His first instinct was to run away. Horses have a well-developed instinct for fear. Even at school, he showed he had an instinct for (= was naturally good at) business.
  2. 2instinct (that…) a feeling that makes you do something or believe that something is true, even though it is not based on facts or reason synonym intuition Her instincts had been right.
  3. Word Originlate Middle English (also in the sense ‘instigation, impulse’): from Latin instinctus ‘impulse’, from the verb instinguere, from in- ‘towards’ + stinguere ‘to prick’.Extra examples Against her better instincts, she ran back into the burning house to save some of her jewellery. Artists have to learn to be guided by their instincts. Babies know by instinct who their mother is. Both superpowers shared the same instinct for self-preservation. He had an unerring instinct for when people were lying to him. He has an instinct for survival in a tough job. He plays well but lacks that killer instinct that wins matches. Her instinct told her that she was being followed. Her instincts took over and she dived on the escaping thief. His first instinct was to run away from danger. I acted purely on instinct. I’ve trusted my instincts in the past and they’ve usually been right. In negotiating you have to develop an instinct for when to be tough and when to make a deal. Out of pure instinct, he moved back a little. They accused the campaign of appealing to the electorate’s baser instincts. What makes all these people come to the club? In my view it’s the herd instinct. Why don’t you just follow your natural instincts? As a player he seemed to lack the killer instinct. Children do not know the difference between right and wrong by instinct. Her instincts about him had been right. It’s best to follow your first instincts in matters like this. Marshall’s gut instinct was to turn and run. Most people have a well-developed survival instinct. She did not seem to have any of the usual maternal instincts. She has a definite instinct for business. The instinct for migration seems to be programmed into some birds and not others.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: instinct

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