I know there's the phrase "You are an animal", but depending on the context, cultural background, etc. the recipient of the saying may not end very happy. Is there another way to describe someone that acts solely by instincts without the danger of being read as rude?

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    You are impulsive. – user85526 Aug 6 '14 at 21:56
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    @GeorgePompidou that sounds as someone that act rashly rather than instinctively and can be taken negatively. Remember that instinct is a innate behavior. – Braiam Aug 6 '14 at 22:03
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    Anything can be taken negatively. Acting on impulse is very similar to acting on instinct. – user85526 Aug 6 '14 at 22:06

Intuitive, where intuition is

direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.

I have always considered a skilled person to be intuitive when they are unable to explain how they do the things they are skilled at.


instinctive adj. - relating to or prompted by instinct; done without conscious thought.

George instinctively looked at the patrons eating their burgers. He must be hungry.

As the ball flew towards his face, James instinctively raised his hands to shield himself.

Joe was quite an instinctive character. When he was hungry, he ate. When he was angry he let people know it. If he was tired, he'd curl up in the corner of the office and sleep. Not suprisingly, this from time to time would cause friction with other people he worked with.


Calling someone an animal — or perhaps saying that their actions are those of an animal — basically narrows it down to being equivalent to each other.

Different cultures may perceive it differently, at the end calling someone or their actions those of an animal are totally degrading.


We have a variety of ways of saying this in American English. I think "acts impulsively" or "is impulsive" is clear but not too clinical. More clinical might be "has poor impulse control" or "learns by doing".

I would stay very far away from calling someone an animal in American English. It has racist overtones.

protected by tchrist Sep 17 '16 at 13:21

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