The Meaning of Innate: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of innate? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word innate, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word innate mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word innate is an adjective that means inherent or existing in a person from birth. Something that is innate is instinctive and not learned, and is an essential part of the character of a thing or person. In botany, this refers to anthers that are joined to the filament by the base only. In rationalist philosophy, the innate hypothesis refers to ideas that are present in the mind before any experience and that are  knowable by pure reason. The word innate is two syllables – in-nate, and the pronunciation of innate is ɪˈneɪt. 

Many things can be innate, like innate knowledge, innate talent, innate ideas, an innate quality, an innate defect, an innate congenital deformity, innate undesirable conditions, an innate hereditary title, an innate hereditary condition like hemophilia or congenital blindness, a body’s innate immunity, innate musical talent, an innate anther, innate vigo, innate eloquence and more. Something that is innate is an essential part of the character of a person or constitution of the mind, formed by their genes.

Many different languages also contain words that mean innate. You may find that some of these words look and sound similar to each other. This is likely because they are of a similar origin. Usually, cognates are formed when two words have a common ancestor such as Latin or Greek. Cognates are words that look, sound, and mean something similar across languages. This list of translations of innate is provided by Word Sense.‎

  •  Catalan: innat‎
  •  Czech: vrozený‎ (masc.)
  •  Japanese: 固有‎, 先天的‎
  •  Spanish: innato‎
  •  Russian: прирождённый‎, врождённый‎
  •  Macedonian: вро́ден‎
  •  Polish: wrodzony‎
  •  Greek: εγγενής‎, έμφυτος‎ (masc.)
  •  Min Nan: 固有‎ (kò͘-iú), 生成‎ (seⁿ-sêng, siⁿ-sêng; seⁿ-chiâⁿ, siⁿ-chiâⁿ), 生做‎ (seⁿ-chò, siⁿ-chòe), 天生‎ (thian-seng), 先天‎ (sian-thian)
  •  Estonian: kaasasündinud‎
  •  French: inné‎
  •  Finnish: synnynnäinen‎, luontainen‎
  •  Cantonese: 固有‎ (gu3 jau5), 天生‎ (tin1 saang1), 先天‎ (sin1 tin1)
  •  Mandarin: 固有‎ (gùyǒu), 天生‎ (tiānshēng), 先天‎ (xiāntiān)
  •  German: angeboren‎
  •  Portuguese: inato‎
  •  Italian: innato‎
  •  Icelandic: meðfæddur‎
  •  Vietnamese: bẩm sinh‎

What is the origin of the word innate?

According to Etymonline, the word innate is a c15 word that comes from the Latin innatus/Latin innātus. This was initially the Late Middle English innat. This is also the source of the French inné, Spanish and Italian innato, and is the past participle of innasci/past participle of innāscī/innascī. This comes from the Latin in, from the Proto-Indo-European root en, and the Latin nasci/nascī and Old Latin gnasci/nāscī meaning to be born. One can add the suffixes ly and ness to make the related words innately (adv.) and innateness (n.)

How can the word innate be used in a sentence?

The word innate (adj.) can be used in many different sentences in natural sounding English. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definition. You can also try to make flashcards or quizzes for yourself to test your knowledge of definitions. Learning new words is a great way to make yourself sound smarter and to improve your vocabulary. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. Below are several examples of innate.

The woman was a born musician and a natural leader. She had all the innate makings of a great conductor. 

He had an innate, unconditioned reflex to let other people walk all over him. His literal basic sense of personality was the polar opposite of his brother’s. He had an innate stodginess and controlling behavior over his possessions that was with him since the time of birth.

What are synonyms and antonyms of innate?

There are many different words that are equivalent to the word innate. Synonyms are words and phrases that have the same or a similar definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English language tool because they can help you to avoid repeating the same word over and over again while simultaneously expanding your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word innate is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  second-nature
  •  untaught
  •  normal
  •  gut
  •  instinctive
  •  hereditary
  •  primeval
  •  in the genes
  •  characteristic
  •  patriarchal
  •  constitutionally
  •  unprompted
  •  matrilineal
  •  fundamental
  •  mechanical
  •  intrinsical
  •  private
  •  spontaneous
  •  inbred
  •  emotional
  •  deep-rooted
  •  ancestral
  •  immanent
  •  ingrained
  •  unlearned
  •  individual
  •  regular
  •  indigenous
  •  born
  •  unmeditated
  •  inside
  •  structural
  •  connatural
  •  ingenerate
  •  essential
  •  involuntary
  •  inward
  •  primal
  •  inherent
  •  unreflecting
  •  innermore
  •  temperamental
  •  visceral
  •  in the family
  •  instinctual
  •  habitual
  •  primitive
  •  indwelling
  •  patrimonial
  •  subconscious
  •  immediate
  •  elemental
  •  congenital
  •  rooted
  •  inner
  •  in-house
  •  reflex
  •  domestic
  •  unthinking
  •  impulsive
  •  intrinsic
  •  intuitional
  •  natal
  •  inveterate
  •  interior
  •  intimate
  •  innermost
  •  connate
  •  built-in
  •  constitutional
  •  knee-jerk
  •  inherited
  •  inwrought
  •  subjective
  •  inborn
  •  automatic
  •  thorough
  •  intuitive
  •  unacquired
  •  integral
  •  accustomed
  •  deep-seated
  •  natural-born
  •  internal
  •  primordial
  •  secret
  •  genetic
  •  typical
  •  viscerous
  •  unpremeditated
  •  in the blood
  •  central
  •  organic
  •  matriarchal
  •  inbuilt
  •  natural
  •  native
  •  basic
  •  unconditioned
  •  inmost

There are also a number of words that mean the opposite of the word innate. These opposite words are known as antonyms, which are words and phrases that have the opposite definitions as another word or phrase. Antonyms are also a useful tool to expand a person’s vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word innate is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  apparent
  •  disorganic
  •  bizarre
  •  inheritable
  •  accidental
  •  superficial
  •  extraneous
  •  incidental
  •  coincidental
  •  eerie
  •  copied
  •  psychogenic
  •  adoptive
  •  traveling
  •  affected
  •  improve
  •  foreign
  •  artificial
  •  conquer
  •  conventional
  •  unearthly
  •  airy
  •  cortical
  •  cursory
  •  sketchy
  •  colonist
  •  outward
  •  spiritual
  •  learned
  •  acquired
  •  consider
  •  shallow
  •  extrinsic
  •  machine made
  •  controlled
  •  adopted
  •  adventitious
  •  conventionalized
  •  conditioned
  •  acquire
  •  anomalous
  •  collateral
  •  ameliorate
  •  casual
  •  co-operative
  •  amend
  •  cagey
  •  contraband
  •  slight
  •  additional

Overall, the word innate means inherent or given to one by their ancestors such as a constitution of the intellect. This word is of Latin origin. 


  1. innate: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. innate | Origin and meaning of innate | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. Innate synonyms – 651 Words and Phrases for Innate | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Innate antonyms – 145 Opposites of Innate | Power Thesaurus 
  5. Innate definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary