Word Origin & History
c.1300, "essential qualities, innate disposition," also "creative power in the material world," from O.Fr. nature, from L. natura "course of things, natural character, the universe," lit. "birth," from natus "born," pp. of nasci "to be born," from PIE *gene- "to give birth, beget" (see
). Original sense is in human nature. Meaning "inherent, dominating power or impulse" of a person or thing is from c.1386. Contrasted with art since 1704. Nature and nurture
have been contrasted since 1874.
Nature should be avoided in such vague expressions as 'a lover of nature,' 'poems about nature.' Unless more specific statements follow, the reader cannot tell whether the poems have to do with natural scenery, rural life, the sunset, the untouched wilderness, or the habits of squirrels." [Strunk & White, "The Elements of Style," 3rd ed., 1979]
Naturist "participant in the movement for communal nudity" is from 1929.