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[ney-tiv] /ˈneɪ tɪv/
being the place or environment in which a person was born or a thing came into being:
one's native land.
belonging to a person by birth or to a thing by nature; inherent:
native ability; native grace.
belonging by birth to a people regarded as indigenous to a certain place, especially a preliterate people:
Native guides accompanied the expedition through the rain forest.
of indigenous origin, growth, or production:
native pottery.
of, relating to, or characteristic of the indigenous inhabitants of a place or country:
native customs; native dress.
born in a particular place or country:
a native New Yorker.
of or relating to a language acquired by a person before or to the exclusion of any other language:
Her native language is Greek.
pertaining to or characteristic of a person using his or her native language:
a native speaker of English; native command of a language.
under the rule of natives:
a native government.
occupied by natives:
the native quarter of Algiers.
remaining or growing in a natural state; unadorned or unchanged:
the native beauty of a desert island.
forming the source or origin of a person or thing:
He returned to his native Kansas.
originating naturally in a particular country or region, as animals or plants.
found in nature rather than produced artificially, as a mineral substance:
the difference between native and industrial diamonds.
Chemistry, Mineralogy. (of metals) occurring in nature pure or uncombined:
native copper.
belonging to a person as a birthright:
to deprive a person of his native rights.
  1. designed for use with a specific type of computer:
    writing native applications for 64-bit PCs.
  2. internal to a specific application program:
    to view the file in its native format.
Archaic. closely related, as by birth.
Sometimes Offensive. one of the people indigenous to a place or country, especially as distinguished from strangers, foreigners, colonizers, etc.:
the natives of Chile.
a person born in a particular place or country:
a native of Ohio.
an organism indigenous to a particular region.
British. an oyster reared in British waters, especially in an artificial bed.
Astrology. a person born under a particular planet.
go native, Informal. to adopt or affect the manners or way of life of a place or environment that is different from one's own, especially a less developed country:
After living on the island for a year, we went native and began to wear the local costume.
Origin of native
1325-75; < Latin nātīvus inborn, natural, equivalent to nāt(us) (past participle of nāscī to be born) + -īvus -ive; replacing Middle English natif (adj.) < Middle French < Latin, as above
Related forms
natively, adverb
nativeness, noun
nonnative, adjective, noun
nonnatively, adverb
nonnativeness, noun
pronative, adjective
quasi-native, adjective
unnative, adjective
2. inherited, innate, inbred, congenital. 4. autochthonous, aboriginal. 11. real, genuine, original. 24. aborigine.
2. acquired. 24. alien.
Usage note
When used to mean "an original inhabitant of a place or country," the noun native may be taken as offensive and has declined in use. Historically it is associated with colonialist attitudes: indigenous people, especially when nonwhite, were typically considered to be primitive or culturally inferior. Unlike the noun, the corresponding adjectival use of native is generally acceptable, as in Native American. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for native
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It reminded us of Mrs. Peary's description of native smells in Greenland.

    A Woman who went to Alaska May Kellogg Sullivan
  • Would you not like to be buried with regal honour, in your native Clazomenæ?

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Bananas had been ashore, drinking some native spirit, and he was drunk.

    The Trembling of a Leaf William Somerset Maugham
  • There was, however, one exception, and that was his friend Windich (native).

  • Iñez is herself a girl of Cadiz, of which city her father was a native.

British Dictionary definitions for native


relating or belonging to a person or thing by virtue of conditions existing at the time of birth: my native city
inherent, natural, or innate: a native strength
born in a specified place: a native German
when postpositive, foll by to. originating in a specific place or area: kangaroos are native to Australia
characteristic of or relating to the indigenous inhabitants of a country or area: the native art of the New Guinea Highlands
(of chemical elements, esp metals) found naturally in the elemental form
unadulterated by civilization, artifice, or adornment; natural
(archaic) related by birth or race
go native, (of a settler) to adopt the lifestyle of the local population, esp when it appears less civilized
(usually foll by of) a person born in a particular place: a native of Geneva
(usually foll by of) a species originating in a particular place or area: the kangaroo is a native of Australia
a member of an indigenous people of a country or area, esp a non-White people, as opposed to colonial settlers and immigrants
(offensive, old-fashioned) any non-White
Derived Forms
natively, adverb
nativeness, noun
Usage note
Because of its potentially offensive and colonial overtones, native as a noun without qualification is best avoided. It is however acceptable when modified, as in :natives of Edinburgh, or a native of North Carolina
Word Origin
C14: from Latin nātīvus innate, natural, from nascī to be born
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for native

late 14c., "natural, hereditary, connected with something in a natural way," from Old French natif "native, born in; raw, unspoiled" (14c.) and directly from Latin nativus "innate, produced by birth," from natus, past participle of nasci (Old Latin gnasci) "be born," related to gignere "beget," from PIE root *gene-/*gen- "to give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to familial and tribal groups (see genus). From late 15c. as "born in a particular place." From early 15c. as "of one's birth," also used from mid-15c. in sense of "bound; born in servitude or serfdom," also, as a noun "a bondsman, serf." Native American attested from 1956.


mid-15c., "person born in bondage," from native (adj.), and in some usages from Medieval Latin nativus, noun use of nativus (adj.). Cf. Old French naif, also "woman born in slavery." From 1530s as "person who has always lived in a place." Applied from 1650s to original inhabitants of non-European nations where Europeans hold political power, e.g., of American Indians, by 1630s; hence, used contemptuously of "the locals" from 1800. Related: Natives.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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native in Medicine

native na·tive (nā'tĭv)

  1. Originating, growing, or produced in a certain place or region; indigenous.

  2. Occurring in nature pure or uncombined with other substances.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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native in Science
  1. Living or growing naturally in a particular place or region; indigenous.

  2. Occurring in nature on its own, uncombined with other substances. Copper and gold are often found in native form.

  3. Of or relating to the naturally occurring conformation of a macromolecule, such as a protein.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for native


Related Terms

go native

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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