What is an adjective to describe something that I have an indirectly feeling about how I should do it but am not sure of and have no concrete evidence for its correctness. It's like an intuition.

For example, in a situation where there are a few bullies attacking a person. I feel that if I stood up, the situation could change. I just naturally feel that the situation could change but I am not sure if it would change and I have no evidence that I have the efficacy to change. It may not change at all; the person may continue to get bullied. But I kind of have this feeling or instinct that it would be different.

It may not be just a like situation like this. It could be like say I feel that adding pepper to my plate of pasta could make it taste better. But it may or may not make it worse. It's like a vague inner voice inside me that tells me that "maybe I should do this".

So then, I may write it this way:

Instinctively, adding pepper can make the pasta taste better.

But, instinctively here doesn't imply the kind of unsure that I have about the action. Although it does give that "natural" idea, I think it is also important that the word presents my sense of uncertainty and the possibility that it may be wrong due to the statement being a subjective opinion.

So, what is a word or phrase better than instinctively to convey these ideas?

  • I you want to really point out the suspect nature of your feelings, you could go with misgivings. It refers to apprehension about the result of an action. Nowadays, it is mostly used after things have been set in motion, but it can be used before things are set in motion as well. "I feel misgivings that adding pepper [would] make the pasta taste better."
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 13:44

7 Answers 7


The original post itself alludes to two perfectly good adjectives: intuitive and instinctive.

Googling "define intuitive" yields as the primary definition: Using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive.

"define instinctive": Relating to or prompted by instinct; apparently unconscious or automatic: "an instinctive distaste for conflict."

My sense is that intuitive implies some degree of certainty, even though one might not be able to present logical arguments that would convince someone else--or, at least, without more effort than one wishes to invest. Instinctive, on the other hand, seems to convey less reflection.

One might intuitively select pieces that will coordinate well when decorating a room.

One might instinctively react when one's child starts to walk toward a busy street.


It's like an intuition.

How about intuitively?


A bit less formal, but an idiom that is used frequently in the US is 'gut feeling'

I think we should not ask that guy for directions. Don't ask me why, it's just a gut feeling.

This is likely due to the fact that your stomach (gut) is "deep within you" which is where your decision seems to have come from.


If you want to emphasize the tentative nature of your intuition, you might use a word like "suspect", "theorize", "imagine", "speculate", or simply "think". As in: "I think that adding pepper would make this taste better." "I suspect that if I interfered it would not change the outcome." "I theorize that increasing the size of the manifold will increase efficiency." Etc.

Note that "think" can mean to engage in rational thought, or it can mean to suggest something tentatively. "I am thinking about atomic theory" means that I am considering it's nature or meaning or whatever. "I am thinking about taking a class in atomic theory" means that I am considering it but I'm not sure.


One possibility could be 'hunch'.

"I have a hunch that if I did x, then y would happen".

Similar to 'gut feeling', it emphasises the fact that you are acting on instinct without necessarily being able to explain the reasoning behind it.

  • 1
    "Hunch" sounds pretty close too! Thanks! :)
    – xenon
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 12:46

As for the feeling that you should do something to help a person in distress, even if you can't affect the outcome of the situation, I think that's your conscience speaking.

As for thinking that your food might taste better with pepper, that might be your subconscious at work. subconscious definition


It's the 'organic nature' of most people to protect or feel protected, love and feel loved. You could use this term here as well. Your organic nature does not imply that you will succeed at stopping the bullies, just that you feel a certain desire or responsibility to step in, in this instance.

  • Interesting. "organic nature" could really be an alternative to describe that instinctive feel!
    – xenon
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 13:22

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