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  1. a cardinal point of the compass, lying in the plane of the meridian and to the left of a person facing the rising sun. Abbreviation: N
  2. the direction in which this point lies.
  3. (usually initial capital letter) a region or territory situated in this direction.
  4. the North, the northern area of the United States, especially the states that fought to preserve the Union in the Civil War, lying to the north of the Ohio River, and usually including Missouri and Maryland.
  5. (initial capital letter) North Country.
  6. the north wind.
  1. in, toward, or facing, the north: the north gate.
  2. directed or proceeding toward the north: a north course.
  3. coming from the north: a north wind.
  4. (usually initial capital letter) designating the northern part of a region, nation, country, etc.: North Atlantic.
  1. to, toward, or in the north: sailing north.

Origin of north

before 900; Middle English, Old English, cognate with Dutch noord, German Nord, Old Norse northr


  1. Christopher, pen name of John Wilson.
  2. Frederick, 2nd Earl of Guil·ford [gil-ferd] /ˈgɪl fərd/Lord North, 1732–92, British statesman: prime minister 1770–82.
  3. Sir Thomas,1535?–1601?, English translator. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for north


  1. one of the four cardinal points of the compass, at 0° or 360°, that is 90° from east and west and 180° from south
  2. the direction along a meridian towards the North Pole
  3. the direction in which a compass needle points; magnetic north
  4. the North (often capital) any area lying in or towards the northRelated adjectives: arctic, boreal
  5. cards (usually capital) the player or position at the table corresponding to north on the compass
  1. situated in, moving towards, or facing the north
  2. (esp of the wind) from the north
  1. in, to, or towards the north
  2. archaic (of the wind) from the north
Symbol: N

Word Origin for north

Old English; related to Old Norse northr, Dutch noord, Old High German nord


noun the North
  1. the northern area of England, generally regarded as reaching approximately the southern boundaries of Yorkshire and Lancashire
  2. (in the US) the area approximately north of Maryland and the Ohio River, esp those states north of the Mason-Dixon Line that were known as the Free States during the Civil War
  3. the northern part of North America, esp the area consisting of Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut; the North Country
  4. the countries of the world that are economically and technically advanced
  5. poetic the north wind
    1. of or denoting the northern part of a specified country, area, etc
    2. (as part of a name)North Africa


  1. Frederick, 2nd Earl of Guildford, called Lord North. 1732–92, British statesman; prime minister (1770–82), dominated by George III. He was held responsible for the loss of the American colonies
  2. Sir Thomas. ?1535–?1601, English translator of Plutarch's Lives (1579), which was the chief source of Shakespeare's Roman plays
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 north

Old English norð "northern" (adj.), "northwards" (adv.), from Proto-Germanic *nurtha- (cf. Old Norse norðr, Old Saxon north, Old Frisian north, Middle Dutch nort, Dutch noord, German nord), possibly ultimately from PIE *ner- "left," also "below," as north is to the left when one faces the rising sun (cf. Sanskrit narakah "hell," Greek enerthen "from beneath," Oscan-Umbrian nertrak "left"). The same notion underlies Old Irish tuath "left; northern;" Arabic shamal "left hand; north." The usual word for "north" in the Romance languages ultimately is from English, cf. Old French north (Modern French nord), borrowed from Old English norð; Italian, Spanish norte are borrowed from French.

As a noun, c.1200, from the adverb. North Pole attested from mid-15c. (earlier the Arctic pole, late 14c.). North American (n.) first used 1766, by Franklin; as an adjective, from 1770.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper