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I'm familiar with the definition of intrinsic: belonging to a thing by its very nature.

Recently, I came across the following in a CV:

Intrinsically involved in setting up and running British courses

What does this mean to you? Is 'intrinsic' necessary?

I have noticed this word popping up more and more often. Isn't it a matter of time until it becomes a cliché?

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    The author probably meant to express "deeply involved", but wanted simultaneously to suggest he has a extraordinary command of language or a sophistication of vocabulary. Not every swing of the bat makes a home run. Sometimes the bat doesn't even connect.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 10, 2016 at 18:45
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    I'm pretty sure nobody belongs to setting up and running British courses by their very nature; unless the person whose CV it was was born doing so, I'm going with @DanBron's assertion that it's a missed attempt at swinging the bat of sophisticated vocabulary. Mar 10, 2016 at 18:50
  • @Dan Bron An ability to use words like intrinsic is truly awesome!
    – WS2
    Mar 11, 2016 at 0:46

1 Answer 1

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It seems to me like the author meant he was "essential" to the courses' creation, that the courses would not exist without his involvement. Perhaps he meant he was the only Brit available to do the job; therefore it was part of his nature to work on the courses and the activities in question would not have been properly British without his involvement.

That feels like a huge stretch, however, so I must agree that "intrinsic" seems like the wrong word to use in this context. I suspect author plucked it out of a thesaurus, perhaps for its alliterative allure, while looking at "essential" synonyms.

There is some evidence that the usage of "intrinsic" is on the rise, but hardly reaching cliché proportions.

Chart comparing English book usage of intrinsic, deeply, and essential

Source: Google Ngrams

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  • It's a bit strange to compare 'essential' and 'intrinsic', which are adjectives, with 'deeply', which is an adverb, isn't it?
    – user58319
    Mar 10, 2016 at 19:53
  • Why yes, it is, @user58319. I tacked deeply on there because it was suggested in the comments. I switched from the adverb to adjective form for intrinsic because the adverb "essentially" has a much weaker meaning in the vernacular. "Intrinsically" also has an upward trend, but it is an order of magnitude less frequent than the adjective form. However, ngrams aren't fantastic evidence anyways, so I left it inexact.
    – Patrick M
    Mar 10, 2016 at 20:25

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