See also: Nature

English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English nature, natur, from Old French nature, from Latin nātūra (birth, origin, natural constitution or quality), future participle from perfect passive participle (g)natus (born), from deponent verb (g)nasci (to be born, originate) + future participle suffix -urus. Displaced native Old English ġecynd. More at kind.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

nature (countable and uncountable, plural natures)

  1. (uncountable, often capitalized) The way things are, the totality of all things in the physical universe and their order, especially the physical world in contrast to spiritual realms and flora and fauna as distinct from human conventions, art, and technology.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VIII”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      I oft admire
      How Nature, wise and frugal, could commit
      Such disproportions.
    • 1808, Dugald Stewart, Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind[1], pages 315–6:
      In the works of nature we find, in many instances, beauty and sublimity involved among circumstances, which are either indifferent, or which obstruct the general effect: and it is only by a train of experiments, that we can separate those circumstances from the rest... Accordingly, the inexperienced artist, when he copies nature, will copy her servilely... and the beauties of his performances will be encumbered with a number of superfluous or disagreeable concomitants. Experience and observation alone can enable him to make this determination: to exhibit the principles of beauty pure and unadulterated, and to form a creation of his own, more faultless, than ever fell under the observation of his senses.
    • 1816, Matthew Harris Jouett, Notes... on Painting with Gilbert Stuart Esqr:
      Most persons in striving after effect lose the likeness when they should go together to produce a good effect you must copy Nature: leave Nature for an imaginary effect & you lose all. Nature as Nature cannot be exceeded, and as your object it [is] to copy Nature twere the hight of folly to look at any thing else to produce that copy.
    • 1849–1861, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter 6, in The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, volumes (please specify |volume=I to V), London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, →OCLC:
      Nature has caprices which art cannot imitate.
    • 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, a Romance, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, →OCLC, [https://archive.org/details/scarletletterrom01hawt/page/186/mode/2up 186–7/mode/1up pages 186–7]:
      Nothing was more common, in those days, than to interpret all meteoric appearances, and other natural phenomena, that occurred with less regularity than the rise and set of sun and moon, as so many revelations from a supernatural source... But what shall we say, when an individual discovers a revelation, addressed to himself alone, on the same vast sheet of record! In such a case, it could only be the symptom of a highly disordered mental state, when a man, rendered morbidly self-contemplative by long, intense, and secret pain, had extended his egotism over the whole expanse of nature, until the firmament itself should appear no more than a fitting page for his soul's history and fate.
    • 1891, Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying:
      Nature has good intentions, of course, but, as Aristotle once said, she cannot carry them out. When I look at a landscape I cannot help seeing all its defects.
    • 1895, Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure, page 15:
      Nature’s logic was too horrid for him to care for.
    • 1918, Fyodor Dostoevsky, “Notes from Underground”, in Constance Garnett, transl., White Nights and Other Stories[2], pages 58–9:
      ...they will shout at you, it is no use protesting: it is a case of twice two makes four! Nature does not ask your permission, she has nothing to do with your wishes, and whether you like her laws or dislike them, you are bound to accept her as she is, and consequently all her conclusions. A wall, you see, is a wall... Merciful Heavens! but what do I care for the laws of nature and arithmetic, when, for some reason I dislike those laws and the fact that twice two makes four? Of course I cannot break through the wall by battering my head against it if I really have not the strength to knock it down, but I am not going to be reconciled to it simply because it is a stone wall and I have not the strength.
    • 1928, Christopher Dawson, The Age of the Gods, page 49:
      Man was entirely at the mercy of nature—a mere scavenger who eked out a miserable existence as a food-gatherer and an eater of shell-fish.
    • 2006 Oct. 1, Dennis Lehane, "Refugees", The Wire, 00:34:06:
      Freamon: She too young for you, boy... They get younger, William. Skinnier too. You don't... 's just the nature of things. Age is age, fat is fat, nature’s nature.
      Moreland: Pitiful.
      Freamon: Pitiless. Nature don't care. Nature just is.
    • 2012 January, Robert M. Pringle, “How to Be Manipulative”, in American Scientist, volume 100, number 1, page 31:
      As in much of biology, the most satisfying truths in ecology derive from manipulative experimentation. Tinker with nature and quantify how it responds.
    • 2015, Alisa Luxenberg, “Printing Plants: The Technology of Nature Printing in Eighteenth-Century Spain”, in Art, Technology, and Nature, page 140:
      Gómez Ortega... explicitly ordered them to study only fresh plants, in situ, to draw every part, and 'to copy nature exactly without presuming to correct it or decorate it as some draughtsmen are used to doing, adding colours and ornaments drawn from their imagination'.
    • 2017 Sept. 8, Michael Grunwald, "A Requiem for Florida" in Politico Magazine:
      As Hurricane Irma prepares to strike, it's worth remembering that Mother Nature never intended us to live here.
    • 2021, Olof G. Lidin, From Taoism to Einstein, page 196:
      The tao of Lao Tzu was a cosmic tao, inner and unwritten, a tao of Nature, while the tao of Confucius was moral and written.
    Nature doesn't lie.
    The laws of nature are written in the language of mathematics.
    Tectonic activity is part of nature, so there's no way to stop earthquakes.
  2. The particular way someone or something is, especially
    1. The essential or innate characteristics of a person or thing which will always tend to manifest, especially in contrast to specific contexts, reason, religious duty, upbringing, and personal pretense or effort.
      • c. 1606 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act TROILUS AND CRESSIDA, scene iii], page iii:
        Vliss.: ... One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
        That all with one consent praise new-borne gaudes,
        Though they are made and moulded of things past,
        And goe to dust, that is a little guilt,
        More laud then guilt ore-dusted.
      • c. 1606 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene v]:
        Lady. ...Glamys thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
        What thou art promis'd: yet doe I feare thy Nature,
        It is too full o'th' Milke of humane kindnesse,
        To catch the neerest way.
      • 1641, David Fergusson, Scottish proverbs, D4:
        Nature passes norture.
      • 1709, Robert Steele, Tatler, number 93:
        Men may change their Climate, but they cannot their Nature.
      • 1834, Criminal Law Commission, First Report... on Criminal Law, page 21:
        Domestic animals of a base nature and not fit for food, are not the subjects of theft. This rule includes dogs and cats.
      • 1848, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Harold, volume III, page 375:
        His own better nature which... was magnanimous and heroic, moved and won him.
      • 1874, John Henry Blunt, Dictionary of Sects..., page 332:
        The Monophysites held that the two Natures were so united, that although the 'One Christ' was partly Human and partly Divine, His two Natures became by their union only one Nature.
      • 1869, Horatio Alger Jr., Mark the Match Boy, Ch. 16:
        Mark hardly knew whether to believe this or not. He already began to suspect that Roswell was something of a humbug, and though it was not in his nature to form a causeless dislike, he certainly did not feel disposed to like Roswell.
      • 1874, Francis Galton, English Men of Science, page 12:
        The phrase ‘nature and nurture’ is a convenient jingle of words, for it separates under two distinct heads the innumerable elements of which personality is composed.
      • 1920, Herman Cyril McNeile, chapter 1, in Bulldog Drummond:
        Being by nature of a cheerful disposition, the symptom did not surprise his servant, late private of the same famous regiment, who was laying breakfast in an adjoining room.
      • 1926, Richard Henry Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, page 20:
        The contrast between nature and grace, between human appetites and interests and religion, is not absolute, but relative.
      • 1961, Barry Crump, Hang on a Minute Mate, page 147:
        Couples bitching at each other is human nature.
      • 2006 Oct. 1, Dennis Lehane, "Refugees", The Wire, 00:34:06:
        Freamon: She too young for you, boy... They get younger, William. Skinnier too. You don't... 's just the nature of things. Age is age, fat is fat, nature's nature.
        Moreland: Pitiful.
        Freamon: Pitiless. Nature don't care. Nature just is.
      • 2015 July 10, Evan Nesterak, "The End of Nature versus Nurture" in The Psych Report:
        Unlike the static conception of nature or nurture, epigenic research demonstrates how genes and environments continuously interact to produce characteristics throughout a lifetime.
      It's not in my nature to steal.
      You can't help feeling that way. It's human nature.
    2. The distinguishing characteristic of a person or thing, understood as its general class, sort, type, etc.
      • 1626 July 12, Charles I, Instructions:
        For the French, it was impossible for them to serve her in that nature.
      • 1700, [John] Dryden, “Preface”, in Fables Ancient and Modern; [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC:
        A dispute of this nature caused mischief.
      • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter II, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
        Carried somehow, somewhither, for some reason, on these surging floods, were these travelers, of errand not wholly obvious to their fellows, yet of such sort as to call into query alike the nature of their errand and their own relations.
      • 1949, George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, page 56:
        And yet, though you could not actually hear what the man was saying, you could not be in any doubt about its general nature.
      • 1988 April, Music and Letters, Vol. 69, p. 463:
        The extent and nature of Bach's influence on Haydn is now due for further reassessment.
      What was the nature of your relationship with the deceased?
      The best medium might be petroleum, liquified gas, or something of that nature.
    3. (UK military, obsolete) Synonym of caliber: the class of a gun.
      • 1828, James Morton Spearman, The British Gunner, page 130:
        ...One Hundred of each Nature of Case-Shot...
      • 1879, War Office, Manual of Siege and Garrison Artillery Exercises, page 37:
        B.L. cartridges have lubricators choked inside the cartridges of 40-pr. and lower natures.
  3. The vital functions or strength of someone or something, especially (now dialect) as requiring nourishment or careful maintenance or (medicine) as a force of regeneration without special treatment.
    • 1592, William West, Symbolaeography, Pt. I, §102b:
      Any such corrasiue, sharpe or eager medicine... as the said H. shal think his nature is vnable to suffer...
    • c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke: [] (Second Quarto), London: [] I[ames] R[oberts] for N[icholas] L[ing] [], published 1604, →OCLC, [Act I, scene iii]:
      For nature creſſant does not grovve alone / In thevvs and bulkes, but as this temple vvaxes, / The invvard ſervice of the minde and ſoule / Grovves vvide vvithal, []
      For a human being's vital functions, increasing, do not grow alone / In physical development and bulk, but as this "temple" [i.e., the body] waxes, / The inward operation of the mind and soul / Grows wide with them.
    • 1807, Zebulon Pike, An Account of Expeditions to the Source of the Mississippi..., volume II, page 182:
      I returned hungry... and had only snow to supply the calls of nature.
    • 1820, Thomas Tredgold, Elementary Principles of Carpentry, page 165:
      The timber... is found to be brittle and effete; or, to use the workman's expression, 'its nature is gone'.
    • 1826 April 1, Lancet, p. 32:
      Nature is unable to repair the extensive injury.
    • 1843, George Henry Borrow, The Bible in Spain, volume III, page 47:
      The prison allowance will not support nature.
    • 1895, T. Pinnock, Tom Brown's Black Country Annual...:
      My iron’s just comin’ to natur’.
    • 1984, William N. Herbert, Sterts & Stobies, page 30:
      Hungry-groond, ground credited to be so much enchanted that a person passing over it would faint if they did not use something to support nature.
  4. A requirement or powerful impulse of the body's physical form, especially
    1. The need to urinate and defecate.
      • 1701, William Wotton, The History of Rome, page 328:
        He withdrew from the Company to ease Nature.
      • 1965, Wole Soyinka, Road, page 26:
        The women tell you to stop because they's feeling the call of nature. If you don't stop they pee in your lorry.
      I hear the call of nature.
    2. (now chiefly African-American Vernacular) Sexual desire.
      • 1823, Lord Byron, Don Juan, Draft, Canto XV, St. xlix & lii:
        She marvelled "What he saw in such a baby
        "As that prim, silent, cold Aurora Raby?"
        ...Why Adeline had this slight prejudice
        ...For me appears a question far too nice,
        Since Adeline was liberal by Nature;
        But Nature’s Nature, and has more caprices
        Than I have time, or will to take to pieces...
      • 1941, William Alexander Percy, Lanterns on the Levee, page 305:
        He had placed a spell on her by means of a cunjer bag... Its effect was to rob her of connubial allure—in her words, ‘it stole her nature’.
      • 1974 July 25, Daily Telegraph, page 3:
        Every time I felt nature for her, she would rub something on her hands and face to take away my nature.
      • 2006 Oct. 1, Dennis Lehane, "Refugees", The Wire, 00:34:06:
        Freamon: She too young for you, boy... They get younger, William. Skinnier too. You don't... 's just the nature of things. Age is age, fat is fat, nature’s nature.
        Moreland: Pitiful.
        Freamon: Pitiless. Nature don't care. Nature just is.
    3. (now chiefly UK regional and African-American Vernacular) Spontaneous love, affection, or reverence, especially between parent and child.
      • c. 1606 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene v]:
        Lady. ... Come you Spirits,
        That tend on mortall thoughts, vnsex me here,
        ...make thick my blood,
        Stop vp th'accesse, and passage to Remorse,
        That no compunctious visitings of Nature
        Shake my fell purpose...
      • 1712, Alexander Pope, “The First Book of Statius's Thebais”, in Miscellaneous Poems and Translations, page 25:
        Have we not seen (the blood of Laius shed)
        The murd'ring son ascend his parent's bed,
        Thro' violated Nature force his way,
        And stain the sacred womb where once he lay?
      • 1749, John Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, volume I, page 136:
        She had no nature, nor indeed any passion but that of money.
      • 1937, Robinson Jeffers, “Thurso's Landing”, in Selected Poetry[3], page 312:
        ...I could bear much. I'd not move nor scream
        While you wrote the red stripes:
        But there's no nature in you...
  5. (now rare) A product of the body's physical form, especially semen and vaginal fluids, menstrual fluid, and (obsolete) feces.
    • c. 1938, spell cited in Harry Middleton Hyatt, Hoodoo Conjuration Witchcraft Rootwork, Vol. I, p. 534:
      If a man want to break his wife from some man, he steals this dishcloth... an' he ketches her nachure in this dishcloth...
  6. (now rare) A part of the body's physical form, especially (obsolete) the female genitalia.
    • 1743 May, William Ellis, Modern Husbandman, No. xiv, p. 137:
      ... offer her the Horse, and... wash her Nature with cold Water ...

Usage notes edit

In its primary sense as the material world, its inhabitants, and their order, nature is frequently personified in English conversation and literature, primarily as a cold and indifferent entity or as a wise and loving nurturer (see Mother Nature). In its sense as the essential characteristics of humanity, man's present nature is usually taken in Christian thought as debased by original sin or inherent frailty but amenable to purification through grace; English consideration of human nature frequently continues to maintain a similar focus on resigned acceptance of its failings and distinctions between better/higher and worse/lower natures.

Synonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

Translations edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Verb edit

nature (third-person singular simple present natures, present participle naturing, simple past and past participle natured)

  1. (obsolete) To endow with natural qualities.

Further reading edit

Anagrams edit

Esperanto edit

Pronunciation edit

Adverb edit

nature

  1. naturally

French edit

Etymology edit

Inherited from Middle French nature, Old French nature, borrowed from Latin nātūra.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

nature f (plural natures)

  1. nature
  2. (grammar) lexical category

Derived terms edit

Adjective edit

 
une brioche nature

nature (plural natures)

  1. plain, unseasoned
    Une brioche nature ou sucrée ?
    A plain or sweet brioche?
    File-moi un yaourt nature s’il te plait.
    Give me a plain yogurt, please.
  2. condomless, bareback, raw dog, natural (see Thesaurus:condomless)
    Une fellation nature.
    A natural blowjob.

Further reading edit

Italian edit

Noun edit

nature f

  1. plural of natura

Adjective edit

nature (invariable)

  1. natural

Anagrams edit

Middle Dutch edit

Etymology edit

Borrowed from Old French nature, from Latin nātūra.

Noun edit

nature f

  1. nature, force of nature
  2. laws of nature, natural order
  3. nature, innate characteristics
  4. kind, sort
  5. origin
  6. sexual fertility, sex drive

Inflection edit

This noun needs an inflection-table template.

Descendants edit

  • Dutch: natuur
  • Limburgish: netuur, netuuer

Further reading edit

Middle English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

Borrowed from Old French nature, from Latin nātūra.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

nature (plural natures)

  1. the Universe, existence, creation
  2. nature, the natural world
  3. natural abilities
  4. natural inevitability, nature (as opposed to nurture)
  5. natural morals, natural law
  6. natural needs or requirements
  7. nature, state, condition
  8. species, kind, type
  9. Nature (allegory)
  10. bodily fluids

Related terms edit

Descendants edit

References edit

Middle French edit

Etymology edit

Inherited from Old French nature, borrowed from Latin nātūra.

Noun edit

nature f (plural natures)

  1. nature

Descendants edit

Old French edit

Etymology edit

Learned borrowing from Latin nātūra.

Noun edit

nature oblique singularf (oblique plural natures, nominative singular nature, nominative plural natures)

  1. nature (natural world; nonhuman world)
    • c. 1170, Chrétien de Troyes, Érec et Énide:
      De cesti tesmoingne Nature,
      Qu'onques si bele creature
      Ne fu veüe an tot le monde.
      Nature can testify
      That never such a beautiful creature
      Was seen in the whole world
  2. nature (character; qualities)

Descendants edit

  • Middle French: nature
  • Middle Dutch: nature (see there for further descendants)
  • Middle English: nature (see there for further descendants)

Spanish edit

Verb edit

nature

  1. inflection of naturar:
    1. first/third-person singular present subjunctive
    2. third-person singular imperative