Share this entry

Share this page

nation

Syllabification: na·tion
Pronunciation: /ˈnāSH(ə)n
 
/

Definition of nation in English:

noun

1A large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory: leading industrialized nations
More example sentences
  • We cannot allow ourselves to be dependent on other nations, history has taught us that.
  • The sooner we can distance ourselves from these artificial things known as nations the better.
  • We are after all talking about the richest, most powerful nation on Earth.
Synonyms
country, sovereign state, state, land, realm, kingdom, republic;
fatherland, motherland;
people, race
1.1A North American Indian people or confederation of peoples.

Origin

Middle English: via Old French from Latin natio(n-), from nat- 'born', from the verb nasci.

More
  • This word came via Old French from Latin natio, from nasci, meaning ‘to be born’. The link between ‘country’ and ‘birth’ was the idea of a people sharing a common ancestry or culture. The Latin verb nasci is the source of many familiar English words connected with birth, among them innate (Late Middle English) inborn or natural; native (Late Middle English); nativity (Middle English) birth; nature (Middle English); naïve (mid 17th century); and renaissance (literally ‘rebirth’). Also related is the name of the former province of Natal in South Africa, which was first sighted by the explorer Vasco da Gama on Christmas Day 1497. He called it Terra Natalis or ‘land of the day of birth’, in recognition of Christ's birth. A similar idea lies behind Noel (Late Middle English), ‘Christmas’, which is a French word that comes ultimately from Latin natalis. England is a nation of shopkeepers is supposed to have been Napoleon's scornful dismissal of the enemy across the Channel. Napoleon was not the first to use the phrase, though; the economist Adam Smith and possibly also the American revolutionary Samuel Adams referred to ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ in 1776.

Derivatives

nationhood

1
Pronunciation: /-ˌho͝od/
noun
Example sentences
  • When national home means national state and there are two nations, only one will be able to realize its nationhood.
  • But the most interesting point that came up was the generational difference in perceptions of nationhood.
  • The concept of nationhood is, I think, inherently bound up with the concept of national defense.

Definition of nation in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day cumbersome
Pronunciation: ˈkʌmbəs(ə)m
adjective
large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry…