[ nuh-tiv-i-tee, ney- ]
/ nəˈtɪv ɪ ti, neɪ- /
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See synonyms for: nativity / nativities on Thesaurus.com

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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does nativity mean?

Nativity refers to the birth of Jesus, the central figure of the religion of Christianity.

Christians celebrate the Nativity during Christmas, and the word is sometimes used as another name for Christmas.

Nativity can also be used to refer to an artistic depiction of the birth of Jesus, such as in a play (also called a Nativity play) or a scene involving statues of the figures at the birth (also called a Nativity scene). In all of these uses, the word is usually capitalized.

The word nativity is also used in some more general ways, though they are less common. It can simply mean a birth, especially in relation to the circumstances of it. It can also be used to refer to a person’s birthplace, as in Zoe often mentions her Greek nativity. 

More specifically, in the context of astrology, one’s nativity is the horoscope of their birth.

Example: Every year at Christmas we create a live Nativity in our front yard, with our dog playing the part of a sheep.

Where does nativity come from?

The first records of the word nativity come from before 1150. It comes from the Middle French nativite, meaning “the feast of the birth of Jesus.” It ultimately derives from the Latin nātivitās, meaning “birth.”

Although nativity can mean “birth” or “birthplace,” it’s not commonly used in this way. Today, it usually specifically refers to the birth of Jesus Christ or something involving his birth, even when it’s lowercase. The story of Jesus’s birth is sometimes called the Nativity story and it is told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament of the Bible.

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What are some other forms related to nativity?

  • nativities (plural)

What are some synonyms for nativity?

What are some words that share a root or word element with nativity

What are some words that often get used in discussing nativity?

How is nativity used in real life?

Nativity is almost always used in reference to the birth of Jesus Christ or depictions or stories of the event.



Try using nativity!

Which of the following words can be a synonym of nativity?

A. birth
B. death
C. development
D. adulthood

How to use nativity in a sentence

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.