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knowing without the use of natural processes; acute insight: She had an intuition that her children were in danger.
Not to be confused with:
instinct – innate aspect of behavior; strong impulse; natural capability or aptitude: He acted on instinct.
prescience – knowledge of things before they exist or happen; foresight: He had a prescience that there would be an earthquake.
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


 (ĭn′to͞o-ĭsh′ən, -tyo͞o-)
1. The faculty of knowing or understanding something without reasoning or proof. See Synonyms at reason.
2. An impression or insight gained by the use of this faculty: "I had this intuition you would come here just after the rain broke" (Carson McCullers).

[Middle English intuicioun, insight, from Late Latin intuitiō, intuitiōn-, a looking at, from Latin intuitus, a look, from past participle of intuērī, to look at, contemplate : in-, on; see in-2 + tuērī, to look at.]

in′tu·i′tion·al adj.
in′tu·i′tion·al·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. knowledge or belief obtained neither by reason nor by perception
2. instinctive knowledge or belief
3. a hunch or unjustified belief
4. (Philosophy) philosophy immediate knowledge of a proposition or object such as Kant's account of our knowledge of sensible objects
5. the supposed faculty or process by which we obtain any of these
[C15: from Late Latin intuitiō a contemplation, from Latin intuērī to gaze upon, from tuērī to look at]
ˌintuˈitional adj
ˌintuˈitionally adv
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌɪn tuˈɪʃ ən, -tyu-)

1. direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.
2. a fact, truth, etc., perceived in this way.
3. a keen and quick insight.
4. the quality or ability of having such direct perception or quick insight.
[1400–50; late Middle English < Medieval Latin intuitiō, Late Latin: the act of gazing at, look]
in`tu•i′tion•al, adj.
in`t-u•i′tion•al•ly, adv.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



by ear Relying on an innate sense of what sounds or feels right; without referring to, or depending upon prescribed procedures or written music. This use of ear, referring to an ability to recognize musical intervals, dates from the early 16th century. At that time, play it by ear meant to sing or play an instrument without printed music. By the 19th century, the same phrase came to mean to proceed one step at a time, trusting intuition and a subtle sense of timing, rather than a prearranged plan, to determine the proper course of action.

“What happens then?” “I don’t know…. We’re playing it by ear at the moment.” (A. Smith, East-Enders, 1961)

Both this figurative use and the earlier one heard in musical contexts are current today.

by the seat of one’s pants By instinct or intuition; just barely, narrowly. This expression was originally an aviation term meaning to fly without instruments, and thus to be forced to rely upon the instincts acquired through past experience. The sense of ‘just barely, narrowly’ would seem to be an outgrowth of this aviation use, since a pilot flying by the seat of his pants is apt to escape disaster by a very narrow margin.

feel in one’s bones To intuit; to sense something before it becomes apparent. This expression probably stems from the ability of people who suffer from bone diseases such as arthritis and rheumatism to predict changes in the weather because of increased pain. This ability is due to the fact that changes in atmospheric pressure and humidity may affect the bones and joints of such individuals. Since changes in pressure and humidity often precede a change in the weather, these people seem to sense the change before it becomes apparent. In its current usage, feel in one’s bones is no longer limited to people with bone disorders or to changes in the weather.

follow one’s nose To be guided by instinct, to play it by ear. The expression clearly derives from an animal’s keen and usually unerring sense of smell. The phrase was used figuratively as early as 1692 by Richard Bentley in one of his Boyle lectures:

The main maxim of his philosophy was, to trust to his senses, and follow his nose.

The expression also has the similar but somewhat less figurative meaning of ‘go straight forward, continue on in a direct course.’

know which way the wind blows See SHREWDNESS.

a little bird An undisclosed source; a secret witness; intuition. This phrase refers to the ubiquitous yet unobtrusive nature of a small bird that, theoretically at least, is able to observe many covert goings-on as it flies through the air. Since the beginning of recorded history (and no doubt before), birds have been respected and, at times, revered for their godlike powers of flight and sight. Many Greek and Roman soothsayers cited their purported understanding of avian language as a source of their knowledge and intuitive or psychic abilities. According to the Koran, the sacred book of Islam, Solomon was advised of Queen Sheba’s activities by a tiny lapwing, and Muhammad himself was counseled by a pigeon. In addition, some early religious woodcuts show various popes listening to the whispered advice of a small bird. These and many other legends have given rise to the almost universal adage, a little bird told me, an expression indicating that the speaker knows a secret or other confidential matter by virtue of intuition or some undisclosed source.

Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry thy voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter. (Ecclesiastes 10:20)

We bear our civil swords and native fire

As far as France. I heard a bird so sing,

Whose music, to my thinking, pleased the king.

(Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II V,v)

my little finger told me that See OMEN.

rule of thumb See CRITERION.

a shot in the dark A wild guess; a random conjecture. This widely used expression combines shot ‘an attempt’ with the phrase in the dark ‘uninformed’ to imply that a given conjecture is made without the benefit of relevant information or assistance. In most cases, however, a “shot in the dark” does involve an element of intuitive reasoning. “Shot in the Dark” was the title of an amusing 1964 movie that starred Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.intuition - instinctive knowing (without the use of rational processes)
basic cognitive process - cognitive processes involved in obtaining and storing knowledge
intuitive feeling, feeling - an intuitive understanding of something; "he had a great feeling for music"
gnosis - intuitive knowledge of spiritual truths; said to have been possessed by ancient Gnostics
sixth sense, insight - grasping the inner nature of things intuitively
immediate apprehension, immediacy - immediate intuitive awareness
inspiration - a sudden intuition as part of solving a problem
2.intuition - an impression that something might be the case; "he had an intuition that something had gone wrong"
impression, notion, belief, feeling, opinion - a vague idea in which some confidence is placed; "his impression of her was favorable"; "what are your feelings about the crisis?"; "it strengthened my belief in his sincerity"; "I had a feeling that she was lying"
heart, bosom - the locus of feelings and intuitions; "in your heart you know it is true"; "her story would melt your bosom"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. instinct, perception, insight, sixth sense, discernment Her intuition was telling her that something was wrong.
2. feeling, idea, impression, suspicion, hunch, premonition, inkling, presentiment You can't make a case on intuitions, you know.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


1. Intuitive cognition:
2. The power to discern the true nature of a person or situation:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
حَدَسٌحَدْس، بَديهَه، بَداهَهشَيء يُدرَك بالبَديهَه
intuícióösztönös megérzés
önsezisezilen şeyiçe doğan hisiçe doğma
trực giác


[ˌɪntjuːˈɪʃən] Nintuición f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˌɪntjuˈɪʃən] nintuition f
Her intuition was telling her that something was wrong → Son intuition lui disait que quelque chose n'allait pas.
feminine intuition → l'intuition féminine
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nIntuition f; (of future events etc)(Vor)ahnung f(of von); to know something by intuitionetw intuitiv wissen
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˌɪntjuːˈɪʃn] n (no pl, power) → intuito, intuizione f; (feeling) → intuito
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(intjuˈiʃən) noun
1. the power of understanding or ralizing something without thinking it out. She knew by intuition that he was telling her the truth.
2. something understood or realized by this power. Her intuitions are always right.
intuitive (inˈtjuːətiv) adjective
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


حَدَسٌ intuice intuition Intuition διαίσθηση intuición intuitio intuition intuicija intuizione 直感 직관 intuïtie intuisjon intuicja intuição интуиция intuition การรู้โดยสัญชาตญาณ önsezi trực giác 直觉
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009
References in classic literature ?
"Oh, intuition, of course--who wouldn't have cried themselves to sleep, and so tired too!"
She was worrying over something, and keeping something back from him, and did not seem to notice the humiliations which poisoned his existence, and for her, with her delicate intuition, must have been still more unbearable.
Much of this had Akut taught him, but far more was instinctive knowledge--a species of strange intuition inherited from his father.
I love you too much to live with you for the rest of my life wondering all the time whether you still believed or whether the weight of the evidence had crushed out that tiny little spark of intuition which is all that makes you believe me now.
On this subject we had long and animated discussions -- he maintaining the utter groundlessness of faith in such matters, -- I contending that a popular sentiment arising with absolute spontaneity- that is to say, without apparent traces of suggestion -- had in itself the unmistakable elements of truth, and was entitled to as much respect as that intuition which is the idiosyncrasy of the individual man of genius.
He could, as it were, "smell death." If any one was dead, if any one had died, or if a place had been used in connection with death, he seemed to know the broad fact by intuition. Adam made up his mind that to test this faculty with regard to several places would be his first task.
What is it?" persisted Natasha with her quick intuition.
His assistants were almost invariably youths from the reform schools, and he picked them with skilful eye and intuition. Control of them, under their paroles, with intelligence and coldness on their part, were the conditions and qualities he sought, and such combination, as a matter of course, carried with it cruelty.
I pointed out to her that this was not a matter of splendour or comfort but of "convenances." She pricked up her ears at that word which probably she had never heard before; but with woman's uncanny intuition I believe she understood perfectly what I meant.
The girl's eyes were soft and tender and the heart within her stretched a little and grew; grew in sweetness and intuition and depth of feeling.
I do not know her, but a sort of intuition tells me she is a lost creature, and that there is something fatal about her."
He had a sudden intuition what was the right thing to do then.