“intuitively” and “instinctively”

If someone were to shine a bright light on your face, you would automatically close or shield your eyes. You would do these things without even thinking. They are responses you are born with; they are “innate”. This is what we mean by “instinctively”. We respond to things without really understanding why we react that way. Our responses are automatic; whatever happens, happens unconsciously. Both animals and human beings are born with instincts.

*When Raju heard gunfire, he instinctively dived/dove for cover.

When you do something intuitively, you do react automatically, but in this case there is a suggestion that you understand what it is you are doing. You are able to figure out a solution to your problem in a fraction of a second without really thinking about it. The story goes that the structure of Benzene came to the chemist Kekule in a sudden moment of insight. This is a case of intuition, not instinct. The word “intuition” is mostly used with human beings, and not with animals.

*Hari intuitively began to attack his opponent’s backhand.  

The Hindu- ‘Know Your English’ Series, Jan 31, 2005


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