noun na·tion \ ˈnā-shən \
|Updated on: 13 Aug 2018

Definition of nation

1 a (1) : nationality 5a
  • three Slav peoples … forged into a Yugoslavia without really fusing into a Yugoslav nation
  • —Hans Kohn
(2) : a politically organized nationality
(3) : a non-Jewish nationality
  • why do the nations conspire
  • —Psalms 2:1 (Revised Standard Version)
b : a community of people composed of one or more nationalities and possessing a more or less defined territory and government
  • Canada is a nation with a written constitution
  • —B. K. Sandwell
c : a territorial division containing a body of people of one or more nationalities and usually characterized by relatively large size and independent status
  • a nation of vast size with a small population
  • —Mary K. Hammond
2 archaic : group, aggregation
3 : a tribe or federation of tribes (as of American Indians)
  • the Seminole Nation in Oklahoma

Examples of nation in a Sentence

  1. It's one of the richest nations in the world.

  2. the largest state in the nation

  3. The President will speak to the nation tonight.

  4. The entire nation is celebrating the victory.

Recent Examples of nation from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of nation

Middle English nacioun, from Anglo-French naciun, from Latin nation-, natio birth, race, nation, from nasci to be born; akin to Latin gignere to beget — more at kin


biographical name Na·tion \ ˈnā-shən \

Definition of Nation

Car*ry play \ˈker-ē, ˈka-rē\ Amelia 1846–1911 née Moore American temperance agitator

NATION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of nation for English Language Learners

  • : a large area of land that is controlled by its own government

  • the nation : the people who live in a nation

  • Nation : a tribe of Native Americans or a group of Native American tribes that share the same history, traditions, or language

NATION Defined for Kids


noun na·tion \ ˈnā-shən \

Definition of nation for Students

1 : country 1
  • China is a nation I'd like to visit.
2 : a community of people made up of one or more nationalities usually with its own territory and government
  • … here is a race that the whole nation is clamoring for …
  • —Walter Farley, The Black Stallion
3 : nationality 3

Word Root of nation

The Latin word nāscī, meaning “to be born,” and its form nātus give us the roots nat and nai. Words from the Latin nāscī have something to do with being born. When someone is native to a particular place, she or he was born there. A nation, or country, is a place where people are born. Anyone naive has a lack of knowledge and experience as if he or she was only recently born.

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


resembling the blue of the sky

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet-pasta-spelling-help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!