Simple Definition of preternatural
: very unusual in a way that does not seem natural
Full Definition of preternatural
Examples of preternatural in a sentence
She has a preternatural ability to charm people.
There was a preternatural quiet in the house.
Did You Know?
Preternatural derives from the Latin praeter naturam, which means "beyond nature." In the 1200s, Medieval Latin scholars rendered the term as "praeternaturalis," and that form inspired the modern English version. Unusual things are sometimes considered positive and sometimes negative, and throughout its history "preternatural" has been used to refer to both exceptionally good things and unnaturally evil ones. In its earliest documented uses in the 1500s, it tended to emphasize the strange, ominous, or foreboding, but by the 1700s, people were using it more benignly to refer to fascinating supernatural (or even heavenly) phenomena. Nowadays, people even use it to describe the remarkable abilities of exceptional humans.
Origin of preternatural
Medieval Latin praeternaturalis, from Latin praeter naturam beyond nature
First Known Use: 1580
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