natural number


: the number 1 or any number (such as 3, 12, 432) obtained by adding 1 to it one or more times : a positive integer
: any of the positive integers together with 0 : a nonnegative integer

Examples of natural number in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The nth prime number is the smallest natural number x for which f(1) + f(2) + ... Manon Bischoff, Scientific American, 16 Nov. 2023 In this case, the natural numbers no longer split into two camps but into nine. Manon Bischoff, Scientific American, 24 Oct. 2023 While mussels and barnacles rebounded to natural numbers within a few years of the spill, not all species were so lucky. J. Besl, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 June 2023 So getting outscored might seem like a natural number for Denver based on the number of players Phoenix uses, but not really. Dana Scott, The Arizona Republic, 8 May 2023 The first surprising thing is that those sets that seem to be larger than the natural numbers actually are the same size as the natural numbers. Steven Strogatz, Quanta Magazine, 19 Apr. 2023 Thus, a natural number appears either particularly frequently or extremely rarely in the OEIS database. Manon Bischoff, Scientific American, 3 Mar. 2023 Like Schur’s theorem, Hindman’s applies no matter how the natural numbers are colored (with a finite number of crayons). Leila Sloman, Quanta Magazine, 15 Mar. 2023 Guglielmetti went on to have the number of all entries output in sequence for the natural numbers and plotted the result graphically. Manon Bischoff, Scientific American, 3 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'natural number.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1763, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of natural number was in 1763

Dictionary Entries Near natural number

Cite this Entry

“Natural number.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

natural number

: the number 1 or any number (as 3, 12, or 432) obtained by adding 1 to it one or more times : a positive whole number

More from Merriam-Webster on natural number

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