Definition of instinctive in US English:



  • 1Relating to or prompted by instinct; apparently unconscious or automatic.

    ‘an instinctive distaste for conflict’
    • ‘Whether we're conscious of it or not, we have an instinctive way of approaching color.’
    • ‘Where Dan's response to the landscape is creative, instinctive and passionate, Ann's is methodical and cold.’
    • ‘In this quite abnormal character, instinctive wisdom appears only to hinder conscious knowledge at certain points.’
    • ‘It seems remarkable that the arrival of such an instinctive, unpredictable character results in the ship being steadied.’
    • ‘He was gifted when it came to matters relating to the soil and livestock and his instinctive knowledge was always put to good use.’
    • ‘The art tends to be beautiful and quite raw - it has a childlike, instinctive quality in some ways and is really technical in others.’
    • ‘It is an instinctive recognition of what their successors have done to the spirit and style of the game in the intervening years.’
    • ‘The ideology, which he professes not to possess, is instinctive.’
    • ‘He relies on an instinctive sense of who is good and who is bad overseas?’
    • ‘This could make for clearer conversation and remove the instinctive impulse to shout into a phone when the line is very noisy.’
    • ‘It is an intuitive and instinctive art that does not need school tutoring.’
    • ‘The question turns upon how much violence is done to our instinctive feelings of justice and fair play.’
    • ‘Some say only humans are conscious and animals are instinctive and machinelike.’
    • ‘The spiritual and the supernatural, even the gruesome arouse an instinctive curiosity in all of us.’
    • ‘It's about making things look, sound, and feel so good that their first impression has emotional and instinctive impact.’
    • ‘The union overcomes this instinctive knowledge by convincing teachers that they in fact have no capacity to teach.’
    • ‘A man with an instinctive knowledge of the land, he was regarded as one of the top farmers in the region down through the years.’
    • ‘And perhaps is it our instinctive love of blood and gore that makes us shudder about stories of vampire bats?’
    • ‘Cats can represent feminine and instinctive feelings, and this is reinforced by the fact that they're your mother's pets.’
    • ‘He had an instinctive knowledge of the area and its people and a great ‘feel’ for country life.’
    1. 1.1 (of a person) doing or being a specified thing apparently naturally or automatically.
      ‘an instinctive writer’
      • ‘Were you naturally instinctive or did your parents force you to take lessons?’
      • ‘He's instinctive, plays both the run and the pass well and has tremendous burst.’
      • ‘I suspect that many instinctive Conservatives may well do that.’
      • ‘When you approach this kind of role, do you think about it or are you instinctive?’
      • ‘He was an instinctive, thoroughbred talent who never had to worry about tactics or movement since it came naturally to him.’
      • ‘The vast number of instinctive conservatives know there is something wrong with the New Capitalism.’
      • ‘I think he had not only the training of method acting, but I think he was also instinctive.’
      • ‘He is also instinctive and tactical and would be a great fit on a team that needs a quick fix at guard.’
      • ‘They are instinctive commissars, which made the UN their natural ally.’
      • ‘Long-term injury to Garry O'Connor robbed them of one of Scottish football's most instinctive finishers.’
      • ‘Bennett gets open because he is instinctive, makes good decisions and runs great routes.’
      • ‘As an instinctive fence-sitter, I have recently found myself ambivalent on most of them.’
      • ‘He was the most wonderful, instinctive actor, with a strange grace that came from his early years as a song-and-dance man.’
      • ‘I found that she's a very intuitive, instinctive actress, she doesn't talk a lot of stuff about motivations.’
      intuitive, natural, innate, inborn, inherent, inbred, instinctual, unconscious, subconscious, subliminal, emotional, intuitional, untaught, unlearned
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Instinctive and instinctual both mean ‘relating to or prompted by instinct; unlearned, natural, automatic.’ Instinctual (like processual and other similar formations) is a variant usually found in learned journals of the social sciences