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[pree-ter-nach-er-uh l, -nach-ruh l] /ˌpri tərˈnætʃ ər əl, -ˈnætʃ rəl/
out of the ordinary course of nature; exceptional or abnormal:
preternatural powers.
outside of nature; supernatural.
Origin of preternatural
1570-80; < Medieval Latin praeternātūrālis, adj. based on Latin phrase praeter nātūram beyond nature. See preter-, natural
Related forms
preternaturalism, preternaturality
[pree-ter-nach-uh-ral-i-tee] /ˌpri tərˌnætʃ əˈræl ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
preternaturalness, noun
preternaturally, adverb
unpreternatural, adjective
unpreternaturally, adverb
1. unusual, extraordinary, unnatural. See miraculous.
1. ordinary, usual. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for preternatural
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They seemed full of that wild, solemn, preternatural cast of grief which bewilders us in the Duchess of Malfy.

  • In this undertaking he manifests a preternatural astuteness.

  • Adrien Duport, quitting magnetic sleep, in this agitation of the world, threatens to rouse himself into preternatural wakefulness.

    The French Revolution Thomas Carlyle
  • Even my preternatural eagerness could not discern who they were!

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • On the contrary, the preternatural wakefulness which had been with her all last night is with her still.

    Doctor Cupid Rhoda Broughton
  • And so Ormiston felt, as he stood eyeing it with preternatural gravity.

    The Midnight Queen May Agnes Fleming
  • Dissolve the element of doubt, and the alleged fact passes from the one class of 'the preternatural into the other.

British Dictionary definitions for preternatural


beyond what is ordinarily found in nature; abnormal
another word for supernatural
Derived Forms
preternaturally, adverb
preternaturalism, noun
preternaturalness, preternaturality, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin praeternātūrālis, from Latin praeter natūram beyond the scope of nature
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 preternatural

1570s, from Medieval Latin preternaturalis (mid-13c.), from Latin phrase praeter naturam (praeterque fatum) "beyond nature (and beyond fate)," from praeter "beyond" (see preterite) + accusative of natura "nature" (see natural).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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