|1.||the innate capacity of an animal to respond to a given stimulus in a relatively fixed way|
|2.||inborn intuitive power|
|3.||a natural and apparently innate aptitude|
|—adj (often foll by with)|
|a. animated or impelled (by)|
|b. imbued or infused (with)|
|[C15: from Latin instinctus roused, from instinguere to incite; compare |
instinct in·stinct (ĭn'stĭngkt')
An inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli.
A powerful motivation or impulse.
|instinct (ĭn'stĭngkt') Pronunciation Key
An inherited tendency of an organism to behave in a certain way, usually in reaction to its environment and for the purpose of fulfilling a specific need. The development and performance of instinctive behavior does not depend upon the specific details of an individual's learning experiences. Instead, instinctive behavior develops in the same way for all individuals of the same species or of the same sex of a species. For example, birds will build the form of nest typical of their species although they may never have seen such a nest being built before. Some butterfly species undertake long migrations to wintering grounds that they have never seen. Behavior in animals often reflects the influence of a combination of instinct and learning. The basic song pattern of many bird species is inherited, but it is often refined by learning from other members of the species. Dogs that naturally seek to gather animals such as sheep or cattle into a group are said to have a herding instinct, but the effective use of this instinct by the dog also requires learning on the dog's part. Instinct, as opposed to reflex, is usually used of inherited behavior patterns that are more complex or sometimes involve a degree of interaction with learning processes.
Behavior that is not learned but passed between generations by heredity.