[ nuh-tiv-i-tee, ney- ]
/ nəˈtɪv ɪ ti, neɪ- /

noun, plural na·tiv·i·ties.

birth with reference to place or attendant circumstances: of Irish nativity.
(initial capital letter) the birth of Christ.
(initial capital letter) the church festival commemorating the birth of Christ; Christmas.
(initial capital letter) a representation of the birth of Christ, as in art.
Astrology. a horoscope of a person's birth.


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Origin of nativity

before 1150; Middle English nativite < Middle French < Late Latin nātīvitāt- (stem of nātīvitās; see native, -ity); replacing late Old English nativiteth < Old French nativited < Late Latin, as above Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for nativity

British Dictionary definitions for nativity (1 of 2)

/ (nəˈtɪvɪtɪ) /

noun plural -ties

birth or origin, esp in relation to the circumstances surrounding it

Word Origin for nativity

C14: via Old French from Late Latin nātīvitas birth: see native

British Dictionary definitions for nativity (2 of 2)

/ (nəˈtɪvɪtɪ) /


the birth of Jesus Christ
the feast of Christmas as a commemoration of this
  1. an artistic representation of the circumstances of the birth of Christ
  2. (as modifier)a Nativity play
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

Cultural definitions for nativity


The birth of Jesus, described in two of the Gospels (Matthew and Luke). When Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph, traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted in a government census, they found that there was no room for them in the local inn. Mary gave birth to Jesus in a common stable and laid him in a manger (a feeding trough for livestock). Christians (see also Christian) believe that Jesus' birth fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies and was attended by miraculous events, such as a star above Bethlehem that drew local shepherds as well as the Wise Men, or Magi, from a distant land.

notes for Nativity

The Nativity is celebrated at Christmas. We date our present historical era from the birth of Jesus, referring to the years before his birth as b.c. (before Christ) and the years after his birth as a.d. (anno Domini, a Latin phrase meaning “in the year of the Lord”).
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.