a. The material world and its phenomena: scientists analyzing nature.
b. The forces and processes that produce and control these phenomena: the balance of nature.
2. The world of living things and the outdoors: spent the day enjoying nature.
3. A primitive state of existence, untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or social constraints: when people lived in a state of nature.
4. The basic character or qualities of humanity: It is only human nature to worry about the future.
5. The fundamental character or disposition of a person; temperament: a man of an irascible nature. See Synonyms at disposition.
6. The set of inherent characteristics or properties that distinguish something: trying to determine the nature of a newly discovered phenomenon.
7. A kind or sort: confidences of a personal nature.
a. The processes and functions of the body, as in healing: The doctor decided not to do anything and let nature take its course.
b. Heredity: behavior more influenced by nature than nurture.
[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 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.