na·​tion | \ ˈnā-shən How to pronounce nation (audio) \

Definition of nation

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : nationality sense 5a three Slav peoples … forged into a Yugoslavia without really fusing into a Yugoslav nation— Hans Kohn
(2) : a politically organized nationality
(3) in the Bible : 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


biographical name
Na·​tion | \ ˈnā-shən How to pronounce Nation (audio) \

Definition of Nation (Entry 2 of 2)

Car*ry \ ˈker-​ē How to pronounce Nation (audio) , ˈka-​rē \ Amelia 1846–1911 née Moore American temperance agitator

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for nation

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of nation in a Sentence

Noun It's one of the richest nations in the world. the largest state in the nation The President will speak to the nation tonight. The entire nation is celebrating the victory.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Its seven-day case average is the fourth-highest in the nation, according to New York Times data, behind Illinois, Texas and California — states with populations several times Wisconsin's size. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With another daily record of 7,777 new coronavirus cases, Wisconsin has surpassed 300,000 total cases — just 18 days after reaching 200,000," 13 Nov. 2020 But Hornung finished second in the nation in total offense and led the team in rushing, passing, scoring, punting, field-goal kicking and minutes played. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "'Golden Boy' Paul Hornung, Notre Dame's Heisman winner and famed NFL bad boy, dies at 84," 13 Nov. 2020 Lying for the president’s sake also requires lying to everyone else in the nation. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "A Coup Is a Coup," 13 Nov. 2020 The Big Ten ended last season as the second-highest conference in the nation in RPI. Kent Youngblood, Star Tribune, "Big Ten women's basketball coaches preparing for season of unknowns," 13 Nov. 2020 Florida Select, which is based in Delray Beach, is one of the top teams in the nation and on Nov. 11 had 13 of its players sign or commit to colleges. Gary Curreri,, "41 teams play in Monster Mash Lax Clash in West Palm Beach," 13 Nov. 2020 Kaluma, who was also offered by Arizona State, is ranked No. 32 in the nation overall in the 2021 class by 247Sports. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, "Dream City Christian's Arthur Kaluma commits to UNLV basketball," 13 Nov. 2020 Assumption, which in some years contends for the role as best overall team in the nation, has won 20 of the 25. James Weber, The Enquirer, "Notre Dame had to adapt to break through with elusive state volleyball state championship," 13 Nov. 2020 The 19-year-old from Connecticut is taking remote classes from an apartment in Jacksonville, Fla., as the Jesuit university in the nation’s capital is teaching mainly online. Washington Post, "Parents, students push colleges to open more in spring: ‘I wish I was in a dorm with my friends’," 13 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of nation


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nation

Time Traveler for nation

Time Traveler

The first known use of nation was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for nation

Last Updated

18 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nation


How to pronounce Nation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nation

: a large area of land that is controlled by its own government
: the people who live in a nation
: a tribe of Native Americans or a group of Native American tribes that share the same history, traditions, or language


na·​tion | \ ˈnā-shən How to pronounce nation (audio) \

Kids Definition of nation

1 : country sense 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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on nation

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


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!