Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective na·tive \ˈnā-tiv\

Simple Definition of native

  • : born in a particular place

  • —used to refer to the place where a person was born and raised

  • : belonging to a person since birth or childhood

Full Definition of native

  1. 1 :  inborn, innate <native talents>

  2. 2 :  belonging to a particular place by birth

  3. 3 archaic :  closely related

  4. 4 :  belonging to or associated with one by birth

  5. 5 :  natural, normal

  6. 6 a :  grown, produced, or originating in a particular place or in the vicinity :  local b :  living or growing naturally in a particular region :  indigenous

  7. 7 :  simple, unaffected

  8. 8 a :  constituting the original substance or source b :  found in nature especially in an unadulterated form <mining native silver>

  9. 9 chiefly Australian :  having a usually superficial resemblance to a specified English plant or animal

  10. 10 capitalized :  of, relating to, or being a member of an aboriginal people of North or South America :  native american

na·tive·ly adverb
na·tive·ness noun

Examples of native

  1. people who are native to France

  2. She has a native ability to learn quickly.

  3. The island is home to several native species of trees.

Origin of native

Middle English natif, from Middle French, from Latin nativus, from natus, past participle of nasci to be born — more at nation

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of native

native, indigenous, endemic, aboriginal mean belonging to a locality. native implies birth or origin in a place or region and may suggest compatibility with it <native tribal customs>. indigenous applies to species or races and adds to native the implication of not having been introduced from elsewhere <maize is indigenous to America>. endemic implies being peculiar to a region <edelweiss is endemic in the Alps>. aboriginal implies having no known race preceding in occupancy of the region <the aboriginal peoples of Australia>.

Rhymes with native



noun na·tive

Simple Definition of native

  • : a person who was born or raised in a particular place

  • : a person from a group of people who were living in an area (such as South America or Africa) when Europeans first arrived

  • : a kind of plant or animal that originally grew or lived in a particular place

Full Definition of native

  1. 1 :  one born or reared in a particular place

  2. 2 a :  an original or indigenous inhabitant b :  something indigenous to a particular locality

  3. 3 :  a local resident; especially :  a person who has always lived in a place as distinguished from a visitor or a temporary resident

Examples of native

  1. She's a native of France who moved to the United States when she was 15.

  2. He wishes he could speak Spanish like a native.

  3. The plant is a native of Central and South America.


First Known Use of native


Medical Dictionary


adjective na·tive \ˈnāt-iv\

Medical Definition of native

  1. 1:  belonging to or associated with one by birth

  2. 2:  living or growing naturally in a particular region

  3. 3a:  constituting the original substance or sourceb:  found in nature especially in an unadulterated form <conversion of a native protein to a denatured protein>

  4. na·tive·ly adverb

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up native? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift duvet kittly-benders pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.