What Does Intrinsic Mean?


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Dominic Ladden Profile
Dominic Ladden answered
The word intrinsic has two common meanings, which are both related to each other. The first has the widest use, which is when something is related to the very nature of something. For example an inherent quality of a gold ring is gold. It cannot be a gold ring without the substance gold. So an intrinsic value of something cannot be taken away. If it is it would no longer be the same thing.
The other common usage is in anatomy. It is when something belongs to or lies with something else. For instance certain muscles will be attached to particular bones, such as in the ‘dorsal intrinsic’ in the hand. This is a muscle attached to the bone.
The etymology of the word intrinsic comes from the Latin intrinsecus, meaning ‘inwardly’ or ‘on the inside’. The first part of the word comes from the word intra, which means ‘within’. The second part comes from secus, meaning ‘alongside’ or originally ‘following’. This word in turn became intrinsic, in English, in the 15th century, which meant, ‘interior, inward, internal’. The original Latin shows a clear correlation with its primary modern day usage. When something is within it is part of the greater whole. So as in my original example, a gold ring, the gold is within, or runs throughout, the ring and is the important part of it. Also the 15th century usage meaning ‘interior’ is obviously related to the Latin intra.
The use of intrinsic in anatomy uses the original Latin perhaps even further, with the meaning ‘alongside’ or ‘following’, mirroring intrinsic muscles, which lie ‘alongside’ their bone counterparts. With these two parts of the original Latin we can see a clear through-road into the two common modern uses of the word which can therefore be seen to correlate with each other.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
The adjective INTRINSIC has 2 senses:
1. Belonging to a thing by its very nature
2. Situated within or belonging solely to the organ or body part on which it acts
  Familiarity information: INTRINSIC used as an adjective is rare.
Vikash Swaroop Profile
Vikash Swaroop answered
Intrinsic is a word that describes the kinds of attributes of a person which is inside him or her and the person does not require to learn it from an external source. The following term can describe the word well in context: Australia is a super power in the game of cricket and it is not only their cricketing skills that are making them the 'numero uno' but also their aggression that is intrinsic to them. In the abovementioned sentence aggression is a quality that the Australians are born with and they don't need to learn it from outside.

The word is a favourite of literary people and you can find it in use in various classic works. One of the most famous uses is in the 'Les Miserable' when Victor Hugo used the term for the English when he was describing their thinking ability.

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