Definition of nature in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈneɪtʃə/


1 [mass noun] The phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations: the breathtaking beauty of nature
More example sentences
  • Religions are moving from a primarily human focus to include concerns for nature and all creation.
  • It is from him that I gained my love of nature, my creative streak and my eye for detail.
  • For humanists, the highest value is intelligent coexistence between humans and nature.
the natural world, the living world, Mother Nature, creation, the world, the environment, the earth, Mother Earth, the universe, the cosmos, natural forces;
wildlife, flora and fauna, countryside, landscape, scenery
1.1The physical force regarded as causing and regulating the phenomena of the world: it is impossible to change the laws of nature See also Mother Nature.
More example sentences
  • Attempts to unify all four forces of nature have eluded physicists from Einstein to the current day.
  • The extent to which a human can be made to feel insignificant in the face of an intractable force of nature knows no bounds.
  • The sheer destructive force of nature demonstrated here is numbing.
2The basic or inherent features, character, or qualities of something: helping them to realize the nature of their problems there are a lot of other documents of that nature
More example sentences
  • The story illustrates the true nature of the relationship between journalists and the police.
  • Both men have difficulty defining the exact nature of their relationship.
  • Further study is necessary to elucidate the precise nature of the relationship between media exposure and cognitive development.
essence, inherent/basic/essential characteristics, inherent/basic/essential qualities, inherent/basic/essential attributes, inherent/basic/essential features, sum and substance, character, identity, complexion
North American  stripe
2.1The innate or essential qualities or character of a person or animal: it’s not in her nature to listen to advice I’m not violent by nature
More example sentences
  • By nature, every individual seeks to prove himself as a useful person in his or her society.
  • By nature, a lot of us are selfish opportunists who tend to pay a lot more mind to something when a treat is guaranteed.
  • By nature I'm definitely a spender, but I'm trying to force myself to be a saver instead.
character, personality, disposition, temperament, temper, humour, make-up, cast/turn of mind, persona, psyche, constitution, fibre
2.2 [mass noun] Inborn or hereditary characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality. Often contrasted with nurture.
Example sentences
  • Who of us cannot look back on our growing up years and see how our parents influenced us by both nature and nurture?
  • He also has an eminently sane attitude to the ferocity of past arguments about the relative influences of nature and nurture.
  • He was fascinated with the idea of whether genius is the result of nature or nurture.
2.3 [with adjective] archaic A person of a specified character: Emerson was so much more luminous a nature



against nature

Unnatural in a way perceived as immoral: is a father killing his son not an act against nature?
More example sentences
  • They unanimously voted to introduce legislation amending the criminal code so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature.
  • The argument is ‘if this crime against nature persists and becomes accepted by society, you know what's next: bestiality.’
  • How do you deal with something that's against nature: It's been asked before, as all of us who are parents can't even imagine it.

someone's better nature

A person’s capacity for tolerance, generosity, or sympathy: Charlotte planned to appeal to his better nature
More example sentences
  • It prompts you to do things that go against your better nature.
  • With my charity night approaching, I would like to appeal to your better nature in asking for prizes in the raffle.
  • We would appeal to their better nature and not pursue disciplinary action against these two men who only joined millions of England fans in watching the game.

the call of nature

Used euphemistically to refer to a need to urinate or defecate.
Example sentences
  • I did a quick escape at the end to answer a pressing call of nature.
  • The pedigree seal point cat left the house as usual to answer a call of nature, but didn't return home.
  • All the trains toilets were ‘out of order’ so it had an extended stop at each of the ten stops en-route to London for passengers to get off, answer the call of nature and get back on again.

from nature

(In art) using natural scenes or objects as models: I wanted to paint landscape directly from nature
More example sentences
  • His manner has affinities with Impressionism but he seldom painted directly from nature.
  • He painted directly from nature, without access to the art collections of the capital, an important resource for painters.
  • The author has walked this terrain over a lifetime, and his gift for etching vivid scenes from nature is given ample play.

get (or go) back to nature

Return to the type of life (regarded as being in tune with nature) that existed before the development of industrial societies: we must get back to nature and question the use of anything which threatens the environment
More example sentences
  • A former gravel pit near Ripon has become a haven for thousands of birds since it went back to nature.
  • The family on the farm had no idea the hen had gone back to nature and had been laying her eggs in a disused trough in the loft.
  • It really allows you to get back to nature, focus on what's important - it's like taking a vacation without actually going anywhere.

in the nature of

Having the characteristics of; similar to: a week at home would be in the nature of a holiday
More example sentences
  • When dilemmas come they're in the nature of how to merge your book collection with your spouse's.
  • But the fact is that these are in the nature of exceptions rather than the rule.
  • It is in the nature of an administrative process and not a judicial process.

in the nature of things

1Inevitable: it is in the nature of things that the majority of music prizes get set up for performers rather than composers
More example sentences
  • It is in the nature of these things that the timing and duration of our visits were occasionally unpredictable.
  • It undoubtedly takes a more complex and multi-faceted view of things than some of my earlier films but I think that's just in the nature of things.
  • It's probably in the nature of things that a Toronto awards show should be focused on Toronto talent, but some of Montreal's brightest lights did get noticed in Hogtown.
2Inevitably: in the nature of things, old people spend much more time indoors
More example sentences
  • Toleration in its deepest essence is founded on this view of human nature, a view that, in the nature of things, impresses itself most urgently upon us at the moments of our greatest destructiveness.
  • This would be a stupid argument since phase A rather inevitably leads to phase B, and B is in the nature of things the complicated phase.
  • But his ‘crucial test’, as he now explains it, is one that, in the nature of things, simply can't be met, or would be so improbable as to amount to an impossibility.

in a state of nature

1In a state unaffected by human intervention.
Example sentences
  • Human beings living in a state of nature, and fearing death, must form a civil association by authorizing some superior power to rule them by law - an outcome Hobbes thought would most commonly come about through conquest.
  • Blacks Law Dictionary defines wild animals as ‘Animals in a untamable disposition; animals in a state of nature.’
  • Natural rights were those rights people enjoyed in a state of nature, independent of any organized society: the right to life and liberty and the right to attempt to procure property.
2Totally naked.
Example sentences
  • He led me to a room where dozens of men were in a state of nature and invited me to change into my judo costume.
  • My theory is that my great grandparents were walking happily hand-in-hand in Cannaught Place, she clad in hot pants and he completely in a state of nature.
3 Christian Theology In a morally unregenerate condition, unredeemed by divine grace.

the nature of the beast

informal The inherent and unchangeable character of something.
Example sentences
  • While it's the nature of the beast, I suppose, that the tone of our commentary is critical, we are well attuned to the fact that everyone makes mistakes on occasion.
  • It is the nature of the beast that everything has to be black and white in football.
  • There is no question that there's a lot of instability that comes with democracy and it's the nature of the beast that it's turbulent and uncertain.


Middle English (denoting the physical power of a person): from Old French, from Latin natura 'birth, nature, quality', from nat- 'born', from the verb nasci.

  • nation from Middle English:

    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.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: na¦ture

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