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[pree-ter-nach-er-uh l, -nach-ruh l] /ˌpri tərˈnætʃ ər əl, -ˈnætʃ rəl/
out of the ordinary course of nature; exceptional or abnormal:
preternatural powers.
outside of nature; supernatural.
Origin of preternatural
1570-80; < Medieval Latin praeternātūrālis, adj. based on Latin phrase praeter nātūram beyond nature. See preter-, natural
Related forms
preternaturalism, preternaturality
[pree-ter-nach-uh-ral-i-tee] /ˌpri tərˌnætʃ əˈræl ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
preternaturalness, noun
preternaturally, adverb
unpreternatural, adjective
unpreternaturally, adverb
1. unusual, extraordinary, unnatural. See miraculous.
1. ordinary, usual. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for preternaturally
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Natt's drowsy eyes were preternaturally bright at that great moment.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • She was very pale, and her eyes were dilating and preternaturally bright.

  • But when he stirred, her eyes were wide and preternaturally bright, and held him.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • She was small and slight for her twelve years, and preternaturally grave.

    The White Rose of Langley Emily Sarah Holt
  • How preternaturally still every thing seemed—what an intensity of silence!

    The Island Home Richard Archer
  • He turned to her now with a manner that was preternaturally quiet.

    The Mystics

    Katherine Cecil Thurston
  • It was the poor fellow's nervous imagination, preternaturally excited.

    Vittoria, Complete George Meredith
  • She seemed to me preternaturally anxious about Miss Penrhys.

British Dictionary definitions for preternaturally


beyond what is ordinarily found in nature; abnormal
another word for supernatural
Derived Forms
preternaturally, adverb
preternaturalism, noun
preternaturalness, preternaturality, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin praeternātūrālis, from Latin praeter natūram beyond the scope of nature
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for preternaturally



1570s, from Medieval Latin preternaturalis (mid-13c.), from Latin phrase praeter naturam (praeterque fatum) "beyond nature (and beyond fate)," from praeter "beyond" (see preterite) + accusative of natura "nature" (see natural).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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