Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The material world and its phenomena.
  • n. The forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world: the laws of nature.
  • n. The world of living things and the outdoors: the beauties of nature.
  • n. A primitive state of existence, untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or artificiality: couldn't tolerate city life anymore and went back to nature.
  • n. Theology Humankind's natural state as distinguished from the state of grace.
  • n. A kind or sort: confidences of a personal nature.
  • n. The essential characteristics and qualities of a person or thing: "She was only strong and sweet and in her nature when she was really deep in trouble” ( Gertrude Stein).
  • n. The fundamental character or disposition of a person; temperament: "Strange natures made a brotherhood of ill” ( Percy Bysshe Shelley).
  • n. The natural or real aspect of a person, place, or thing. See Synonyms at disposition.
  • n. The processes and functions of the body.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The natural world; consisting of all things unaffected by or predating human technology, production and design. e.g. the natural environment, virgin ground, unmodified species, laws of nature.
  • n. The innate characteristics of a thing. What something will tend by its own constitution, to be or do. Distinct from what might be expected or intended.
  • n. The summary of everything that has to do with biological, chemical and physical states and events in the physical universe.
  • v. To endow with natural qualities.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The existing system of things; the universe of matter, energy, time and space; the physical world; all of creation. Contrasted with the world of mankind, with its mental and social phenomena.
  • n. The personified sum and order of causes and effects; the powers which produce existing phenomena, whether in the total or in detail; the agencies which carry on the processes of creation or of being; -- often conceived of as a single and separate entity, embodying the total of all finite agencies and forces as disconnected from a creating or ordering intelligence.
  • n. The established or regular course of things; usual order of events; connection of cause and effect.
  • n. Conformity to that which is natural, as distinguished from that which is artificial, or forced, or remote from actual experience.
  • n. The sum of qualities and attributes which make a person or thing what it is, as distinct from others; native character; inherent or essential qualities or attributes; peculiar constitution or quality of being.
  • n. Kind, sort; character; quality.
  • n. Physical constitution or existence; the vital powers; the natural life.
  • n. Natural affection or reverence.
  • n. Constitution or quality of mind or character.
  • transitive v. To endow with natural qualities.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Birth; origin; parentage; original stock.
  • n. The forces or processes of the material world, conceived of as an agency intermediate between the Creator and the world, producing all organisms and preserving the regular order of things: as, in the old dictum, “nature abhors a vacuum.” In this sense nature is often persouified.
  • n. The metaphysical principle of life; the power of growth; that which causes organisms to develop each in its predeterminate way.
  • n. Cel. Let us sit and mock the good housewife Fortune. … Those that she makes fair she scarce mates honest, and those that she makes honest she makes very ill-favouredly.
  • n. . Cause; occasion; that which produces anything.
  • n. The material and spiritual universe, as distinguished from the Creator; the system of things of whieh man forms a part; creation, especially that part of it which more immediately surrounds man and affects his senses, as mountains, seas, rivers, woods, etc.: as, the beauties of nature; in a restricted sense, whatever is produced without artificial aid, and exists unchanged by man, and is thus opposed to art.
  • n. Hence That which is conformed to nature or to truth and reality, as distinguished from that which is artificial, forced, conventional, or remote from actual experience; naturalness.
  • n. Inherent constitution, property, or quality: essential character, quality, or kind; the qualities or attributes whieh constitute a being or thing what it is, and distinguish it from all others; also, kind; sort; species; category: as, the nature of the soul; the divine nature; it is the nature of fire to burn; the compensation was in the nature of a fee.
  • n. An original, wild, undomesticated condition, as of an animal or a plant; also, the primitive condition of man antecedent to institutions, especially to political institutions: as, to live in a state of nature.
  • n. The primitive aboriginal instincts, qualities, and tendencies common to mankind of all races and in all ages, as unchanged or uninfluenced by civilization; especially, the instinctive or spontaneous sense of justice, benevolence, affection, self-preservation, love of show, etc., common to mankind; naturalness of thought, feeling, or action; humanity.
  • n. The physical or moral constitution of man; physical or moral being; the personality.
  • n. Inborn or innate character, disposition, or inclination; inherent bent or disposition; individual constitution or temperament; inbred or natural endowments, as opposed to acquired; hence, by metonymy, a person so endowed: as, we instinctively look up to a superior nature.
  • n. The vital powers of man; vitality; vital force; life; also, natural course of life; lifetime.
  • n. In theology, the natural unregenerate state of the soul; moral character in its original condition, unaffected by grace.
  • n. Conscience.
  • n. Spontaneity. abandon; felicity; truth; naturalness.
  • n. Kindly disposition: a natural disposition such that one does not readily take or give offense; an easy, indulgent spirit.
  • n. In theology, in a state of sin; unregencrated.
  • n. The regular course of human life.
  • n. See law, 3
  • Natural; growing spontaneously: as, nature grass; nature hay.
  • To endow with distinctive natural qualities.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the complex of emotional and intellectual attributes that determine a person's characteristic actions and reactions
  • n. a particular type of thing
  • n. the natural physical world including plants and animals and landscapes etc.
  • n. the essential qualities or characteristics by which something is recognized
  • n. a causal agent creating and controlling things in the universe

Etymologies

Middle English, essential properties of a thing, from Old French, from Latin nātūra, from nātus, past participle of nāscī, to be born; see genə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English natur, nature, from Old French nature, from Latin natura ("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. Replaced native Middle English cunde, icunde ("nature, property, type, genus, character") (from Old English ġecynd), Middle English lund ("nature, disposition") (from Old Norse lund), Middle English burthe ("nature, birth, nation") (from Old English ġebyrd and Old Norse *byrðr). More at kind. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In order to fend off any reminiscences of pagan polytheism, Philoponus points out that unlike the individually differentiated gods of the pagans the three divinities of the Trinity are all of the same, single divine nature in the universal sense of ˜nature™.

    John Philoponus

  • And since, even when idealized, nature still remains ˜nature™, it follows according to Jacobi that in practice Fichte's idealism is but a form of materialism.

    Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi

  • {193} "Corresponding to our progressive perception of nature and our immovable conviction of the truth of the evolution theory, our religion can be only a _religion of nature_."

    The Theories of Darwin and Their Relation to Philosophy, Religion, and Morality

  • Nothing can please persons of taste but nature drawn with all her graces and ornament -- _la belle nature_; or, if we copy low life, the strokes must be strong and remarkable, and must convey a lively image to the mind.

    The Illustrated London Reading Book

  • Mineralogy _-alogy_, not _-ology_ nature _nature_, or _choor_ oleomargarine _g_ is hard, as in _get_ orchid _orkid_ oust _owst_, not _oost_ peculiar _peculyar_ pecuniary _pekun'yari_ perspiration not _prespiratian_ prestige _pres'tij_ or _prestezh'_ pronunciation _pronunzeashun_ or _pronunsheashun_ saucy not _sassy_ schedule _skedyul_ semi not _semi_ theater _the'ater_ not _thea'ter_ turgid _turjid_ usage _uzage_ usurp _uzurp_ vermilion _vermilyun_ wife's not _wives_

    Practical Grammar and Composition

  • Agnes, a devoted admirer of nature, was in an ecstasy which she could not conceal, as one beautiful view succeeded another during their sail up the lake; but the other ladies were so much occupied in trying the effect of _art_, that they had no eye for the beauties of _nature_.

    Lewie Or, The Bended Twig

  • But you yourself can aid nature the most by realizing that _nature is health and it is normal to be well_.

    Diet and Health With Key to the Calories

  • Very few people, I suppose, are so foolish as to believe that man is by nature either a chaste or a constant animal, and indeed in this respect he appears to his disadvantage when compared with certain varieties of birds, which are _by nature_ constant to each other.

    Birth Control A Statement of Christian Doctrine against the Neo-Malthusians

  • To discover the nature of Man and the laws of that _nature_, marks the summit of human enterprises.

    Manhood of Humanity.

  • The novelist professed to give an imitation of nature, but it was, as the French say, _la belle nature_.

    Famous Reviews

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • The beauty of Life's sleight-of-hand vis-a-vis man: humans can pronounce every possible distinction, then believe (espouse) or not-believe (decry) them, all the while blissfully unmindful that this tempest-in-a-teacup was not of his making, but Life's...and not for his edification, but, again, for Life's. Yet man can claim otherwise; THAT is the Great Trick.

    August 31, 2007

  • Are human beings part of nature? I find it odd that we draw a distinction between natural and artificial, as if the things created by mankind do not, for some reason, qualify as items of nature. Yet the creations of animals certainly do qualify. Are we not animals ourselves? Isn't every thing created by us, who are natural, in turn also natural by virtue of its source? Why do we not afford the privilege of artificiality to the cultures of animalia, yet claim it for ourselves? And are we so wholly other that the things of the earth bear no semblance to us or our creations? To what, or whom, do we then belong?

    August 31, 2007