Home > I Words > instinct


Definition of Instinct

(noun) A tendency to behave in certain ways that is unlearned and often considered innate.

Instinct Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: in·stinct

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /In-stingkt/
  • British English – /In-stingkt/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈɪnstɪŋkt/
  • British English – /ˈɪnstɪŋkt/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: instincts
  • Also called inherent aptitude.
  • When acting on instinct, a person reacts in an (adjectiveinstinctual or (adjectiveinstinctive manner.

Additional Information

Related Terms

Works Consulted

Kendall, Diana. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Shepard, Jon M. 2010. Sociology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Shepard, Jon M., and Robert W. Greene. 2003. Sociology and You. New York: Glencoe.

Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Instinct

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “instinct.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 17, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/instinct/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

instinct. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/instinct/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “instinct.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 17, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/instinct/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“instinct.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/instinct/>.