north·​ern | \ ˈnȯr-t͟hərn How to pronounce northern (audio) , 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

Examples of northern in a Sentence


the northern part of the state

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Last August, a small farm in northern China reported the unexplained deaths of some of its pigs to authorities. WSJ, "After Devastating China, African Swine Fever Threatens to Go Global," 25 Apr. 2019 Just before the first day of spring, Winter Storm Ulmer brought hurricane-like conditions with strong wind gusts, heavy snow, and dangerously low air pressure to the Rockies, central and northern Plains, and the Upper Midwest. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "A Brutal Spring Snow Storm Is Going to Slam 200 Million People Across the U.S. This Week," 9 Apr. 2019 Today the steppe from the Black Sea to northern China is dotted with thousands of their tombs—deep grave pits, covered with mounds of stone or soil. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Satellites watch over the graves of ancient steppe nomads," 26 Dec. 2018 The northern half of the peninsula had been home to thousands of Christians, including Catholics, before Mr. Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, came to power as North Korean state founder. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, "Kim Jong Un Invites Pope Francis to North Korea," 9 Oct. 2018 The Outer Banks stretch along the northern half of the state's coast and jut out into the Atlantic. Ben Finley, Fox News, "AP Explains: Why North Carolina is vulnerable to hurricanes," 12 Sep. 2018 It is expected to dump snow into portions of the northern Plains and Upper Midwest, with some areas seeing as much as 2 feet of snow. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "A Brutal Spring Snow Storm Is Going to Slam 200 Million People Across the U.S. This Week," 9 Apr. 2019 As a Carrancista spy, Herrera worked as a bartender in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. Teen Vogue, "Mexican Revolutionary Petra Herrera Posed as a Man to Fight for Her Country," 1 Apr. 2019 The New People’s Army marked a half a century after its founding with an attack on a police patrol in northern Mountain Province that killed a policeman. Jim Gomez, The Seattle Times, "Philippine communist rebels mark 50th year with new attacks," 29 Mar. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about northern

Statistics for northern

Last Updated

13 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for northern

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce northern (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on northern

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!