north·​ern | \ˈnȯr-t͟hərn, ˈnȯr-t͟hən\

Definition of northern 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 capitalized

a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a region conventionally designated North

b : of, relating to, or constituting the northern dialect

2a : lying toward the north

b : coming from the north a northern storm



Definition of northern (Entry 2 of 2)

1 capitalized : the dialect of English spoken in the part of the U.S. north of a line running northwest through central New Jersey, below the northern tier of counties in Pennsylvania, through northern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, across central Iowa, and through the northwest corner of South Dakota

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Other Words from northern


northernmost \ˈnȯr-​t͟hə(r)n-​ˌmōst \ adjective

Examples of northern in a Sentence


the northern part of the state

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

If someone were born in northern Greece or Anatolia, the strontium signal would be different from that of Iron Gates natives. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 The whereabouts of a 13-year-old girl from northern Wisconsin are unknown after police responded to a 911 call from her home and found both of her parents dead inside, according to NBC News. Kaylen Ralph, Teen Vogue, "13-Year-Old Jayme Closs Is Missing After Her Parents Were Found Dead in Their Home," 16 Oct. 2018 At the center, on a tall stool with a brush in hand, sits Paravicini, whose effortless elegance seems quintessentially northern Italian. Nancy Hass, ELLE Decor, "A Milan Ceramicist Brings Her Family’s Artisanal Aesthetic to Life at Home," 4 Oct. 2018 Earlier this month, Iran launched a strike on a meeting of Iranian Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq. Nasser Karimi, The Seattle Times, "Iran video threatens missile strikes on UAE, Saudi Arabia," 25 Sep. 2018 The trains, which operate in between northern German towns, are a step away from traditional diesel power. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "First Hydrogen-Powered Trains Rolling in Germany," 19 Sep. 2018 The northern and southern lights result when such particles slam into molecules high up in Earth's atmosphere, generating a glow. Mike Wall,, "Hole in Sun's Atmosphere Amps Up Northern Lights," 11 Sep. 2018 The couples stayed at Castle of Mey in Caithness, Scotland, on the country's northern coast, Us Weekly reports. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Took a Secret Trip to Scotland with Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla," 22 Aug. 2018 Some of that evidence indicates that the northern part of the planet once hosted an ocean. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "NASA picks a landing spot on Mars for its 2020 rover," 19 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Between May and August, Freeze might catch fewer than 10 northerns at his arboreal outpost just off Interstate 95. Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, "A mysterious disease is killing millions of bats. These scientists are trying to save them.," 12 July 2018 This is not a new polarization in the western states or in other northern settled regions. Steve Haycox, Anchorage Daily News, "Economic reality sets the stage for tension over ANWR drilling," 9 Mar. 2018 Connecting with history through Mexican folklórico dance (3:25) Numerically speaking, Wilma and Harold Matz are rarer around here than the endangered northern spotted owl. Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times, "‘Greatest generation’ is fading, but it’s still got choice words for our own," 23 Aug. 2017

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

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First Known Use of northern


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1950, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for northern


Middle English northerne, from Old English; akin to Old High German nordrōni northern, Old English north north

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Statistics for northern

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for northern

The first known use of northern was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for northern



English Language Learners Definition of northern

: located in or toward the north

: of or relating to the north


north·​ern | \ˈnȯr-t͟hərn \

Kids Definition of northern

1 often capitalized : of, relating to, or like that of the North northern weather

2 : lying toward or coming from the north northern Europe

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More from Merriam-Webster on northern

Spanish Central: Translation of northern

Nglish: Translation of northern for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of northern for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about northern

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