I want to say something like:

From Freud's perspective, sexual deviances are not [manifest in humans from birth / present in humans from birth].

I need a word that describes a condition that one is born with; specifying that the condition was present from birth.

  • 1
    Also consider immanent (not to be confused with imminent).
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 0:12
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    @JoshuaLamusga: Except of course it would be confused with imminent. ;-) Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 5:36
  • predisposition?
    – rogerdpack
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 15:53
  • note that simply "natural" is often used here. For example, in the phrase "natural talent" it (a) literally means what you ask and (b) is the universal phrase for what you ask, in that case.
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:54
  • 1
    Etymologically, "natural" is exactly the right word, but if you were to say "sexual deviances are not natural" it would probably not be understood as intended by anybody. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 19:48

11 Answers 11



(especially of a disease or physical abnormality) present from birth. (of a person) having a particular trait from birth or by firmly established habit.


adj. ... describing a condition that is recognized at birth or that is believed to have been present since birth. Congenital malformations include all disorders present at birth whether they are inherited or caused by an environmental factor....
Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary (9 ed.)

  • 7
    Can the word "congenital" really be used to describe something psychological, such as "sexual deviances", as per the original question? I've only heard it used for physical malformations/disorders
    – Jake
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 14:43
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    @Jake the OP wants to say : "From Freud's perspective, sexual deviances are not ______.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 17:24
  • 1
    I limit myself to suggesting the most appropriate word, in my opinion. :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 18:52
  • 6
    @Jake: "Congenital liar" is a pretty common phrase. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 19:47
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    I was the 100th upvoter :) ! Congratulations!
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 17:52

Consider innate (existing in one from birth; inborn; native)

Example: We do not know whether musical ability is innate or acquired.

Edit: I just realized that this word appears in @Josh61 "Inborn" definition.

  • 9
    On reading the question title, my first reaction was "congenital", but on reading the context in the question itself, "innate" is a better choice, IMO. A child may be born with a congenital heart defect, but humans have an innate ability to recognize faces. That is, face recognition is part of being human - everyone has it - but "congenital" is an individual condition. Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 18:55


  • existing from birth; congenital; innate

  • Existing naturally or by heredity rather than being learned through experience:

    • "Flight is an inborn skill; young birds don't have to learn how" (Marie Read).

(The Free Dictionary)


Congenital is my first choice, but if you want something more on the meta-physical level, consider inherent:

belonging to the basic nature of someone or something


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    +1 This would be my choice in the OP's context. Congenital is usually used for physical attributes. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:16
  • 1
    Agreed. Also, sexual deviance is not a condition.
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 2:01

Maybe you should go for :

innate: An innate quality or ability is one that you were born with, not one you have learned:


inherent :existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute.


intrinsic : Of or relating to the essential nature of a thing. Situated within or belonging solely to the organ or body part on which it acts.


inborn : natural

P.S. : Definitions from Google Dictionary

  • Don't know why these have been downvoted, they are good words. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 6:24
  • 1
    @IainHolder Maybe the downvotes were cast because innate has already been suggested by Graffito, inherent by Michael J and there's no explanation or reference for intrinsic, which is the worst suggestion of the lot.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 22:44
  • 1
    I concur. This answer is of Very Low Quality, and does risk deletion unless it's enhanced with published definitions which justify these suggestions.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 8:19
  • @abcd Please format and reference quotes correctly
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 13:31

Congenital is indeed oft used, however it means that it is a lineage trait as well (literally from con genites (Latin) meaning with father): so whilst popular in use, not strictly correct unless unless referring to a condition suffered by progenitors as well.

From the point of view of non-physical traits: perhaps inherent, or intrinsic might serve better when dealing with psychological conditions allowing a choice for the intent you wish to construe as to the capability of the individual to resist their predestined traits: if inherent, then they may well be able to resist, if intrinsic, then the trait is so fundamental as to be an integral part and unavoidable in the long run. Innate can work too, as it stems from the Latin for in/since birth.

For example:

From Freud's perspective, sexual deviances are not inherent

i.e. not part of the basic nature of the subject

From Freud's perspective, sexual deviances are not intrinsic

i.e. not part of the integral nature of the subject

From Freud's perspective, sexual deviances are not innate

i.e. not part of the birth-state of the subject

Something just occurred to me as well, the trait, described as psychological may well have a physiological cause (brain lesions, altered brain formation) and hence be able to be classified as a more properly physical trait, which could allow you to rename the trait as such.



That's what most American English speakers would say in that case. It isn't technically correct, but we use the word for things that aren't caused by genes.

"Insanity is genetic, you get it from your children"

"She has a genetic heart condition"

"Many Americans believe that homosexuality is genetic"

  • 1
    I don't think that's a usage issue, but rather a scientific literacy issue. I think when people say this they genuinely mean genetic and are simply misunderstanding the science, as opposed to meaning something other than the scientific definition. (Of course, the first example you gave is a common joke, and the use of genetic there is tongue-in-cheek.)
    – Era
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 16:27
  • 1
    Sure, I agree with that. I'm positively amazed that this isn't getting massive upvotes, because anyone who speaks American will have heard this, almost every time, when we need to say a sentence like the example. This is absolutely the most common way an American speaker would say it. Maybe in UK it's different, I don't know.
    – Jasmine
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 16:49
  • Genetic though isn't what I'm looking for in this context. Genetic would imply the 'sexual deviance' is a precondition, determined prior to birth. I am simply looking for a word that describes something as if it was assigned at birth.
    – socrates
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 23:47
  • Americans use the word both ways. Sorry if I wasn't clear on that.
    – Jasmine
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 16:27
  • @Jasmine ha that's a pretty funny joke, the first one. Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 23:58


: passing, or capable of passing, naturally from parent to offspring through the genes


Hemophilia is a hereditary condition.


: reappearing after being absent from a strain of organism for several generations. Used of an inherited trait.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Student Science

  • 3
    Neither of these words fit the OP's context. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:19
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    This implies the trait is shared by one's parents/ancestors. A birth defect, for example, may not be hereditary, but it's still present from birth. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:21

'innate' works, right? ..but I like to use 'instinctive'.

It provides a 'tip of the hat' towards the world of life before us and their wisdom of workable interconnection to resources which constructively evolves.

From Wikipedia... INSTINCTIVE ...relating to or prompted by instinct; apparently unconscious or automatic. "an instinctive distaste for conflict" (of a person) doing or being a specified thing apparently naturally or automatically. "an instinctive writer" enter image description here!


"Proband" is the term geneticists use to define someone who has a genetic condition they wish to track in a family tree. A person confirmed with the condition is an "affected proband" a person unconfirmed is a "suspected proband"

  • 1
    Can you add a reference to back your claim? :)
    – NVZ
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 4:35

It's not perfect for this usage, but inveterate is a good word to have in your tool belt:

1. settled or confirmed in a habit, practice, feeling, or the like: an inveterate gambler.

2. firmly established by long continuance, as a disease, habit, practice, feeling, etc.; chronic.

[via Dictionary.com]

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