instinct


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base instinct

A subconscious urge, behavior, or intuition directed by primeval, animalistic, self-serving, and/or ignoble motivations. Greed and selfishness are unfortunately two of the base instincts ingrained in the human psyche. Though he is an upstanding citizen, when he drinks, he unfortunately succumbs to his base instincts.
See also: base, instinct

gut instinct

An intuition or feeling, as opposed to an opinion based on a logical analysis. My gut instinct about Kara's new boyfriend proved correct when we discovered he had a pretty extensive criminal history.
See also: gut, instinct

killer instinct

Cliché an inborn desire or ability to be ruthless. Fred has a real killer instinct. He's a difficult boss to work for.
See also: instinct, killer
References in classic literature ?
He had another similar swamp which I could not survey at all, because it was completely under water, and nevertheless, with regard to a third swamp, which I did SURVEY from a distance, he remarked to me, true to his instincts, that he would not part with it for any consideration, on account of the mud which it contained.
But the desire for approbation is perhaps the most deeply seated instinct of civilised man.
Let me see red in anger but for a moment, and all the instincts of the savage beast that I really am, submerge what little I possess of the milder ways of culture and refinement.
Old One Eye was feeling the urge of an impulse, that was, in turn, an instinct that had come down to him from all the fathers of wolves.
The subject of instinct might have been worked into the previous chapters; but I have thought that it would be more convenient to treat the subject separately, especially as so wonderful an instinct as that of the hive-bee making its cells will probably have occurred to many readers, as a difficulty sufficient to overthrow my whole theory.
His triumphant and loving joy in his religion enables him often to attain the poetic beauty and eloquence of his original; but both by instinct and of set purpose he rendered his own style even more simple and direct, partly by the use of homely vernacular expressions.
I have skill at it, and, like many of my fellows, a certain instinct for it, which revives from time to time, but always when I have done I feel that it would have been better if I had not fished.
And yet you will pay no attention to my instinct against Alfred Inglethorp.
I think you put it best in your letter--it was an instinct, which may be wrong.
We believe that one group of habits can 'down' another group of habits--or instincts.
The instinct of self-preservation was strong within him.
without a husband,--in that degraded and outcast condition to which error is well known to lead; and the world's wife, with that fine instinct which is given her for the preservation of Society, saw at once that Miss Tulliver's conduct had been of the most aggravated kind.
Now, if the question were to destroy a lion, a tiger, a cat, a hyena, I could understand it; but to deprive an antelope or a gazelle of life, to no other purpose than the gratification of your instincts as a sportsman, seems hardly worth the trouble.
Philip's rule of life, to follow one's instincts with due regard to the policeman round the corner, had not acted very well there: it was because Cronshaw had done this that he had made such a lamentable failure of existence.
The Snake was quickly revived by the warmth, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound.