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Definition of spontaneous


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spon·ta·ne·ous  audio  (spn-tn-s) KEY 

ADJECTIVE:
  1. Happening or arising without apparent external cause; self-generated.
  2. Arising from a natural inclination or impulse and not from external incitement or constraint.
  3. Unconstrained and unstudied in manner or behavior.
  4. Growing without cultivation or human labor.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Late Latin spontneus, of one's own accord, from Latin sponte; see (s)pen- in Indo-European roots

OTHER FORMS:
spon·tane·ous·ly(Adverb), spon·tane·ous·ness(Noun)

SYNONYMS:
spontaneous, impulsive, instinctive, involuntary, automatic

These adjectives mean acting, reacting, or happening without apparent forethought or prompting. Spontaneous applies to what arises naturally rather than resulting from external constraint or stimulus: "The highest and best form of efficiency is the spontaneous cooperation of a free people" (Woodrow Wilson). Impulsive refers to the operation of a sudden urge or feeling not governed by reason: Buying a car was an impulsive act that he immediately regretted. Instinctive implies behavior that is a natural consequence of membership in a species. The term also applies to what reflects or comes about as a result of a natural inclination or innate impulse: Helping people in an emergency seems as instinctive as breathing. Involuntary refers to what is not subject to the control of the will: "People drew in their breath with involuntary surprise and suspense" (Harriet Beecher Stowe). Automatic implies an unvarying mechanical response or reaction: She accepted the subpoena with an automatic "thank you."


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