a. A relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country.
b. The territory occupied by such a group of people: All across the nation, people are voting their representatives out.
2. The government of a sovereign state.
3. A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language; a nationality: "Historically the Ukrainians are an ancient nation which has persisted and survived through terrible calamity" (Robert Conquest).
a. A federation or tribe, especially one composed of Native Americans.
b. The territory occupied by such a federation or tribe.
[Middle English nacioun, from Old French nation, from Latin nātiō, nātiōn-, from nātus, past participle of nāscī, to be born; see genə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.