See more synonyms for nature on
  1. the material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities.
  2. the natural world as it exists without human beings or civilization: In nature, wild dogs hunt in packs.
  3. the elements of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers: The abandoned power plant was reclaimed by nature, covered in overgrowth and home to feral animals.
  4. natural scenery: Tourists at the resort are surrounded by nature.
  5. the universe, with all its phenomena: Conservation of energy is a universal law of nature.
  6. the sum total of the forces at work throughout the universe.
  7. reality, as distinguished from any effect of art: a portrait true to nature.
  8. the particular combination of qualities belonging to a person, animal, thing, or class by birth, origin, or constitution; native or inherent character: human nature.
  9. the instincts or inherent tendencies directing conduct: a man of good nature.
  10. character, kind, or sort: two books of the same nature.
  11. characteristic disposition; temperament: a self-willed nature; an evil nature.
  12. the original, natural, uncivilized condition of humankind.
  13. the biological functions or the urges to satisfy their requirements.
  14. a primitive, wild condition; an uncultivated state.
  15. a simple, uncluttered mode of life without the conveniences or distractions of civilization: a return to nature.
  16. (initial capital letter, italics) a prose work (1836), by Ralph Waldo Emerson, expounding transcendentalism.
  17. Theology. the moral state as unaffected by grace.
  1. by nature, as a result of inborn or inherent qualities; innately: She is by nature a kindhearted person.
  2. in a state of nature,
    1. in an uncivilized or uncultured condition.
    2. without clothes; nude; naked.
  3. of/in the nature of, having the character or qualities of: in the nature of an apology.

Origin of nature

1200–50; Middle English natur(e) < Old French < Latin nātūra conditions of birth, quality, character, natural order, world, equivalent to nāt(us) (past participle of nāscī to be born) + -ūra -ure
Related formsna·ture·like, adjectivean·ti·na·ture, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nature

Contemporary Examples of nature

Historical Examples of nature

  • "Flattery to ourselves does not change the nature of what is wrong," answered Philothea.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • He was disposed to think more favourably of the nature of the country.

  • I refer, of course, to man's mastery over the latent forces of Nature.

    'Tis Sixty Years Since

    Charles Francis Adams

  • Kate's nature was limited; part of her graceful equipoise was narrowness.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Absolute directness was a part of her nature; she could die, but not manouvre.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

British Dictionary definitions for nature


  1. the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character
  2. (often capital, esp when personified) the whole system of the existence, arrangement, forces, and events of all physical life that are not controlled by man
  3. all natural phenomena and plant and animal life, as distinct from man and his creations
  4. a wild primitive state untouched by man or civilization
  5. natural unspoilt scenery or countryside
  6. disposition or temperament
  7. tendencies, desires, or instincts governing behaviour
  8. the normal biological needs or urges of the body
  9. sort; kind; character
  10. the real appearance of a person or thinga painting very true to nature
  11. accepted standards of basic morality or behaviour
  12. biology the complement of genetic material that partly determines the structure of an organism; genotypeCompare nurture (def. 3)
  13. Irish sympathy and fondness for one's own people or native placeshe is full of nature
  14. against nature unnatural or immoral
  15. by nature essentially or innately
  16. call of nature informal, euphemistic, or jocular the need to urinate or defecate
  17. from nature using natural models in drawing, painting, etc
  18. in the nature of or of the nature of essentially the same as; by way of

Word Origin for nature

C13: via Old French from Latin nātūra, from nātus, past participle of nascī to be born
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

Word Origin and History for nature

late 13c., "restorative powers of the body, bodily processes; powers of growth;" from Old French nature "nature, being, principle of life; character, essence," from Latin natura "course of things; natural character, constitution, quality; the universe," literally "birth," from natus "born," past participle of nasci "to be born," from PIE *gene- "to give birth, beget" (see genus).

From late 14c. as "creation, the universe;" also "heredity, birth, hereditary circumstance; essential qualities, innate disposition" (e.g. human nature); "nature personified, Mother Nature." Specifically as "material world beyond human civilization or society" from 1660s. Nature and nurture have been contrasted since 1874.

Nature should be avoided in such vague expressions as 'a lover of nature,' 'poems about nature.' Unless more specific statements follow, the reader cannot tell whether the poems have to do with natural scenery, rural life, the sunset, the untouched wilderness, or the habits of squirrels." [Strunk & White, "The Elements of Style," 3rd ed., 1979]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nature in Science


  1. The world and its naturally occurring phenomena, together with all of the physical laws that govern them.
  2. Living organisms and their environments.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with nature


see call of nature; good nature; second nature.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.