[ ney-tiv ]
See synonyms for: nativenativesnatively on

  1. being the place or environment in which a person was born or a thing came into being: one's native land.

  2. belonging to a person by birth or to a thing by nature; inherent: native ability;native grace.

  1. belonging by birth to a people regarded as indigenous to a certain place, especially a preliterate people: Native guides accompanied the expedition through the rainforest.

  2. of indigenous origin, growth, or production: native pottery.

  3. Native. of, relating to, or characteristic of the Indigenous inhabitants of a place or country: Native customs;Native dress.

  4. born in a particular place or country: a native New Yorker.

  5. of or relating to a language acquired by a person before or to the exclusion of any other language: Her native language is Greek.

  6. pertaining to or characteristic of a person using a native language or first language, acquired in childhood: a native speaker of English;native command of a language.

  7. under the rule of natives: a native government.

  8. occupied by natives: the native quarter of Algiers.

  9. remaining or growing in a natural state; unadorned or unchanged: the native beauty of a desert island.

  10. forming the source or origin of a person or thing: He returned to his native Kansas.

  11. originating naturally in a particular country or region, as animals or plants: Hundreds of species of plants and trees native to central Texas are displayed and nurtured in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, south of Austin.

  12. found in nature rather than produced artificially, as a mineral substance: the difference between native and industrial diamonds.

  13. Chemistry, Mineralogy. (of metals) occurring in nature pure or uncombined: native copper.

  14. belonging to a person as a birthright: to deprive people of their native rights.

  15. Digital Technology.

    • of or relating to software designed specifically for the platform on which it is running: native applications for 64-bit PCs;native mobile apps.

    • of or relating to data interpreted or displayed by the software or hardware for which it was originally encoded: to view the file in its native format.

  16. Archaic. closely related, as by birth.

  1. Sometimes Offensive. one of the people indigenous to a place or country, especially as distinguished from strangers, foreigners, colonizers, etc.: the natives of Chile.

  2. Native. Sometimes Offensive. Indigenous (def. 2). : See Usage note at the current entry.

  1. a person born in a particular place or country: a native of Ohio.

  2. an organism indigenous to a particular region.

  3. British. an oyster reared in British waters, especially in an artificial bed.

  4. Astrology. a person born under a particular planet: Capricorn natives are practical, collected, and reliable allies to have in a crisis.

Idioms about native

  1. go native, Informal: Often Offensive. to adopt the way of life of a place or environment that is different from one's own (sometimes used facetiously): After living on the island for a year, we went native and did without air conditioning just like the locals. I don’t usually drink alcohol, but at the frat party I went native and played beer pong with everyone else.

Origin of native

First recorded in 1325–75; from Latin nātīvus “inborn, natural,” equivalent to nāt(us) (past participle of nāscī “to be born”) + -īvus, replacing Middle English natif, from Middle French, from Latin, as above; cf. -ive

usage note For native

When used to mean "an original inhabitant of a place or country," the noun native may be taken as offensive and has declined in use. Historically it is associated with colonialist attitudes: Indigenous people, especially when nonwhite, were typically considered to be primitive or culturally inferior.
Native also falls into a category of identity words that are common as adjectives (a marketplace for Native artists; a Native politician sought the nomination) and sometimes used as plural nouns (only Natives who reside on the reservation can vote in the Tribal election). However, these identity words are very rare and often sound offensive when used as singular nouns (voters elected a Native ). In most cases, the adjective is preferred (voters elected a Native councilmember ).

Other words for native

Opposites for native

Other words from native

  • na·tive·ly, adverb
  • na·tive·ness, noun
  • non·na·tive, adjective, noun
  • non·na·tive·ly, adverb
  • non·na·tive·ness, noun
  • pro·na·tive, adjective
  • qua·si-na·tive, adjective
  • un·na·tive, adjective

Words Nearby native Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use native in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for native


/ (ˈneɪtɪv) /

  1. relating or belonging to a person or thing by virtue of conditions existing at the time of birth: my native city

  2. inherent, natural, or innate: a native strength

  1. born in a specified place: a native German

  2. (when postpositive, foll by to) originating in a specific place or area: kangaroos are native to Australia

  3. characteristic of or relating to the indigenous inhabitants of a country or area: the native art of the New Guinea Highlands

  4. (of chemical elements, esp metals) found naturally in the elemental form

  5. unadulterated by civilization, artifice, or adornment; natural

  6. archaic related by birth or race

  7. go native (of a settler) to adopt the lifestyle of the local population, esp when it appears less civilized

  1. (usually foll by of) a person born in a particular place: a native of Geneva

  2. (usually foll by of) a species originating in a particular place or area: the kangaroo is a native of Australia

  1. a member of an indigenous people of a country or area, esp a non-White people, as opposed to colonial settlers and immigrants

  2. offensive, old-fashioned any non-White

Origin of native

C14: from Latin nātīvus innate, natural, from nascī to be born

usage For native

Because of its potentially offensive and colonial overtones, native as a noun without qualification is best avoided. It is however acceptable when modified, as in : natives of Edinburgh, or a native of North Carolina

Derived forms of native

  • natively, adverb
  • nativeness, noun

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

Scientific definitions for native


[ tĭv ]

  1. Living or growing naturally in a particular place or region; indigenous.

  2. Occurring in nature on its own, uncombined with other substances. Copper and gold are often found in native form.

  1. Of or relating to the naturally occurring conformation of a macromolecule, such as a protein.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.