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[in-sahyt] /ˈɪnˌsaɪt/
an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding:
an insight into 18th-century life.
penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth.
  1. an understanding of relationships that sheds light on or helps solve a problem.
  2. (in psychotherapy) the recognition of sources of emotional difficulty.
  3. an understanding of the motivational forces behind one's actions, thoughts, or behavior; self-knowledge.
Origin of insight
1150-1200; Middle English; see in-1, sight
Can be confused
incite, insight.
2. perception, apprehension, intuition, understanding, grasp. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for insight
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For a single instant doubt drowned Sam's faith in his own insight and in human nature.

    The Silent Places Steward Edward White
  • He is remarkable for insight to the character of all with whom he has to do.

  • In its last and loftiest ascensions, insight itself, and the freedom of the will, is one of its obedient members.

  • There is a directness of aim in virtue which gives an insight into vice.

    The Republic Plato
  • In ordinary life a man of common powers, he possessed for this hour the insight and the intensity of genius.

    Wenderholme Philip Gilbert Hamerton
British Dictionary definitions for insight


the ability to perceive clearly or deeply; penetration
a penetrating and often sudden understanding, as of a complex situation or problem
  1. the capacity for understanding one's own or another's mental processes
  2. the immediate understanding of the significance of an event or action
(psychiatry) the ability to understand one's own problems, sometimes used to distinguish between psychotic and neurotic disorders
Derived Forms
insightful, adjective
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
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Word Origin and History for insight

c.1200, innsihht, "sight with the eyes of the mind," mental vision, understanding," from in + sight. Sense shaded into "penetrating understanding into character or hidden nature" (1580s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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insight in Medicine

insight in·sight (ĭn'sīt')
Understanding, especially an understanding of the motives and reasons behind one's actions.

in'sight·ful (ĭn'sīt'fəl, ĭn-sīt'-) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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insight in Technology

A simulation and modelling language especially for health care problems.
["Simulation Modeling with INSIGHT", S.D. Roberts Proc 1983 Winter Sim Conf, S.D. Roberts et al eds, pp.7-16].

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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