instinct Definition

  • 1an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli
  • 2a natural or intuitive way of acting or thinking

Using instinct: Examples

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with how "instinct" can be used in various situations through the following examples!

  • Example

    The bird's instinct told it to fly south for the winter.

  • Example

    Her maternal instincts kicked in when she saw the child crying.

  • Example

    He had an instinct that something was wrong.

  • Example

    The cat's hunting instinct is strong.

instinct Synonyms and Antonyms

Antonyms for instinct

Idioms Using instinct

  • follow one's instincts

    act according to one's natural or intuitive feeling about something


    She decided to follow her instincts and take the job offer.

  • have a natural ability to detect or recognize something


    He has a nose for good deals and always manages to find the best bargains.

  • adapt to the prevailing situation or circumstances


    Instead of making a plan, we decided to just go with the flow and see where the day takes us.

Phrases with instinct

  • an instinctive feeling, as opposed to a reasoned one, about a particular course of action


    My gut instinct tells me that we should not trust him.

  • killer instinct

    an aggressive and ruthless attitude or approach to achieving one's goals


    He has a killer instinct when it comes to business deals.

  • a physiological response to a perceived threat, which prepares the body to either fight or flee


    When confronted by the bear, his fight or flight instinct kicked in.

Origins of instinct

from Latin 'instinctus', meaning 'impulse, prompting'


Summary: instinct in Brief

'Instinct' [ˈɪnstɪŋkt] refers to an innate, often fixed pattern of behavior in animals, or a natural or intuitive way of acting or thinking in humans. Examples include the bird's instinct to fly south for the winter, and the gut instinct that tells us something is wrong. Phrases like 'gut instinct' and 'killer instinct' denote different aspects of this concept, while idioms like 'follow one's instincts' and 'go with the flow' suggest ways of acting on it.

How do native speakers use this expression?