from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of or relating to the essential nature of a thing; inherent.
  • adjective Anatomy Situated within or belonging solely to the organ or body part on which it acts. Used of certain nerves and muscles.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In pathology, pertaining to the internal parts or to the structures proper of an organ.
  • Being within; penetrating inward; intimate; familiar; intestine; domestic.
  • Hence—2. Pertaining to the inner or essential nature; intimately characterizing; inherent; essential; genuine; belonging to the subject in its very existence: as, the intrinsic value of gold or silver; the intrinsic merit of an action.
  • In Scots law, intimately connected with the point at issue: applied to circumstances sworn to by a party on an oath of reference that make part of the evidence afforded by the oath, and cannot be separated from it.
  • In anatomy, applied to those muscles of the limbs which take origin within the anatomical limits of the limb, such limits including the pectoral and pelvic arches.
  • Synonyms Interior, Inward, etc. See inner.
  • noun A genuine or essential quality.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Inward; internal; hence, true; genuine; real; essential; inherent; not merely apparent or accidental; -- opposed to extrinsic
  • adjective (Anat.) Included wholly within an organ or limb, as certain groups of muscles; -- opposed to extrinsic.
  • adjective (Physics) the work it can do in virtue of its actual condition, without any supply of energy from without.
  • adjective (Geom.) the equation which expresses the relation which the length of a curve, measured from a given point of it, to a movable point, has to the angle which the tangent to the curve at the movable point makes with a fixed line.
  • adjective See the Note under Value, n.
  • noun obsolete A genuine quality.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Innate, inherent, inseparable from the thing itself, essential.
  • adjective of a body part Comprising, being part of a whole.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective situated within or belonging solely to the organ or body part on which it acts
  • adjective belonging to a thing by its very nature


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English intrinsique, inner, from Old French intrinseque, from Late Latin intrīnsecus, inward, from Latin, inwardly; see en in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin intrinsecus ("on the inside, inwardly"), from *intrim, an assumed adverbial form of inter ("within") + seccus ("by, on the side")


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  • This is one of my favourite words to use when I'm writing. :)

    September 9, 2007