Definitions

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

  • adj. Out of or being beyond the normal course of nature; differing from the natural.
  • adj. Surpassing the normal or usual; extraordinary: "Below his preternatural affability there is some acid and steel” ( George F. Will).
  • adj. Transcending the natural or material order; supernatural.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Beyond or different from what is natural or according to the regular course of things; strange; inexplicable; extraordinary; abnormal.
  • adj. Having an existence outside of the natural world. In this sense, everything supernatural is also preternatural.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Beyond of different from what is natural, or according to the regular course of things, but not clearly supernatural or miraculous; strange; inexplicable; extraordinary; uncommon; irregular; abnormal

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Being beyond what is natural, or different from what is natural; extraordinary: being out of the regular or natural course of things: distinguished from supernatural, being above nature, and unnatural, being contrary to nature.
  • Synonyms Miraculous, etc. See supernatural.

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

  • adj. surpassing the ordinary or normal
  • adj. existing outside of or not in accordance with nature

Etymologies

Medieval Latin praeternātūrālis, from Latin praeter nātūrām, beyond nature : praeter, beyond; see preterit + nātūra, nature; see nature.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin preternaturalis/praeternaturalis, from praeter nātūram, from praeter ("beyond") + nātūra ("nature"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Conning back for these posts, it was no longer a stream, but more of a river of humanity, with everyone in preternatural good cheer.

    At Invesco Now...

  • Following up on a halloween coversation about ghosts, most people don't know the word preternatural--often incorrectly using the word supernatural ("above nature") when they mean preternatural ("beyond nature").

    Archive 2006-11-01

  • Philo's writings, Jewish demonology was propagated among Christian converts, and the Gnostics quickly absorbed and spread the notion of preternatural interposition.

    Three Thousand Years of Mental Healing

  • There are also secret societies which guard what may be called the preternatural tradition of the tribe, and deduce therefrom the decisions to be arrived at.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 1: Aachen-Assize

  • [49] By occultism is meant the belief in, and the claim to be able to use, a certain range of forces neither natural, nor, technically, supernatural, but more properly to be called preternatural -- often, though by no means always, for evil or selfish ends.

    The Builders A Story and Study of Masonry

  • His upper jaw was furnished with two long white sharp-pointed teeth or fangs, such as the reader may have observed in the chaps of a wolf, or full-grown mastiff, and an anatomist would describe as a preternatural elongation of the dentes canini.

    The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves

  • The popular imagination seems to buy into a mythic understanding of Apple — that Steve Jobs has some kind of preternatural design compass embedded in his brain stem.

    inkblurt · Strategy and Innovation: Strange Bedfellows

  • Warmth should be "preternatural" for a politician?

    WA-SEN: Cantwell vs. McGavick

  • Her confidence is hard to explain -- "preternatural," Ms. Berlinski calls it -- but was rooted in an absolute belief that the socialism undermining her nation's economy was not just wrong but evil because of its corrosive effects on the human spirit.

    Never Wobbly

  • I suspect she is actually a vampire à la Ann Rice, who uses the word 'preternatural' far too much for my liking.

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Comments

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  • If I don't lose control
    Explore and not explode
    A preternatural other plane
    With the power to maintain

    October 18, 2007