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[pree-ter-nach-er-uhl, -nach-ruhl]
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  1. out of the ordinary course of nature; exceptional or abnormal: preternatural powers.
  2. outside of nature; supernatural.
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Origin of preternatural

1570–80; < Medieval Latin praeternātūrālis, adj. based on Latin phrase praeter nātūram beyond nature. See preter-, natural
Related formspre·ter·nat·u·ral·ism, pre·ter·nat·u·ral·i·ty [pree-ter-nach-uh-ral-i-tee] /ˌpri tərˌnætʃ əˈræl ɪ ti/, pre·ter·nat·u·ral·ness, nounpre·ter·nat·u·ral·ly, adverbun·pre·ter·nat·u·ral, adjectiveun·pre·ter·nat·u·ral·ly, adverb

Synonyms for preternatural

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Antonyms for preternatural

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for preternatural


  1. beyond what is ordinarily found in nature; abnormal
  2. another word for supernatural
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Derived Formspreternaturally, adverbpreternaturalism, nounpreternaturalness or preternaturality, noun

Word Origin for preternatural

C16: from Medieval Latin praeternātūrālis, from Latin praeter natūram beyond the scope of nature
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 preternatural


1570s, from Medieval Latin preternaturalis (mid-13c.), from Latin phrase praeter naturam (praeterque fatum) "beyond nature (and beyond fate)," from praeter "beyond" (see preterite) + accusative of natura "nature" (see natural).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper