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 ?
This case is more remarkable than that of the cuckoo; for these bees have not only their instincts but their structure modified in accordance with their parasitic habits; for they do not possess the pollen-collecting apparatus which would be necessary if they had to store food for their own young.
But as ants, which are not slave-makers, will, as I have seen, carry off pupae of other species, if scattered near their nests, it is possible that pupae originally stored as food might become developed; and the ants thus unintentionally reared would then follow their proper instincts, and do what work they could.
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.
It would be easy to show that several distinct mental actions are commonly embraced by this term; but every one understands what is meant, when it is said that instinct impels the cuckoo to migrate and to lay her eggs in other birds' nests.
It is now commonly admitted that the more immediate and final cause of the cuckoo's instinct is, that she lays her eggs, not daily, but at intervals of two or three days; so that, if she were to make her own nest and sit on her own eggs, those first laid would have to be left for some time unincubated, or there would be eggs and young birds of different ages in the same nest.
The occasional habit of birds laying their eggs in other birds' nests, either of the same or of a distinct species, is not very uncommon with the Gallinaceae; and this perhaps explains the origin of a singular instinct in the allied group of ostriches.
This remarkable instinct was first discovered in the Formica (Polyerges) rufescens by Pierre Huber, a better observer even than his celebrated father.
Smith, I tried to approach the subject in a sceptical frame of mind, as any one may well be excused for doubting the truth of so extraordinary and odious an instinct as that of making slaves.
Such are the facts, though they did not need confirmation by me, in regard to the wonderful instinct of making slaves.
1) That instinct requires no prevision of the biological end which it serves;
2) That instinct is only adapted to achieve this end in the usual circumstances of the animal in question, and has no more precision than is necessary for success AS A RULE;
3) That processes initiated by instinct often come to be performed better after experience;
4) That instinct supplies the impulses to experimental movements which are required for the process of learning;
All the above characteristics of instinct can be established by purely external observation, except the fact that instinct does not require prevision.
Every creature is designed with specific instincts that make them what they are.