narrowly (adv.) Look up narrowly at
Old English nearolice "narrowly, closely, strictly;" see narrow (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "only by a little" is attested from 1550s.
narrows (n.) Look up narrows at
"narrow place in a river, etc.," 1630s, plural of narrow (n.).
narthex (n.) Look up narthex at
"porch at the west end of early churches" (used by penitents not admitted to the body of the church), 1670s, from Late Greek narthex, in classical Greek "giant fennel," of unknown origin. The architectural feature allegedly so called from fancied resemblance of porch to a hollow stem. The word also was used in Greek to mean "a small case for unguents, etc." According to Hesiod ("Theogeny"), Prometheus conveyed fire from Heaven to Earth in hollow fennel stalks. Related: Narthecal.
narwhal (n.) Look up narwhal at
1650s, from Danish and Norwegian narhval, probably a metathesis of Old Norse nahvalr, literally "corpse-whale," from na "corpse" + hvalr "whale" (see whale). So called from resemblance of its whitish color to that of dead bodies. The first element is from PIE *nau- (1) "death; to be exhausted" (source also of Old English ne, neo, Gothic naus "corpse," Old Cornish naun, Old Church Slavonic navi, Old Prussian nowis "corpse," Lettish nawe "death," Lithuanian novyti "to torture, kill").
nary (adj.) Look up nary at
1746, alteration of ne'er a, short for never a.
NASA Look up NASA at
U.S. space agency, acronym of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, set up in 1958.
nasal (adj.) Look up nasal at
1650s, "of the nose," from French nasal, from Latin nasus "nose, the nose, sense of smell," from PIE root *nas- "nose." Of speech sounds, attested from 1660s. As a noun, "nasal letter or sound," from 1660s. Related: Nasality; nasalization.
acronym for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, U.S. auto racing promotion group founded 1948 in Daytona Beach, Florida. NASCAR dad in U.S. political parlance, "small-town, often Southern white man who abandons traditional Democratic leanings to vote Republican at least once every four years" coined 2003 by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.
nascent (adj.) Look up nascent at
1620s, from Latin nascentem (nominative nascens) "arising young, immature," present participle of nasci "to be born" (Old Latin gnasci), from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget." Related: Nascence (1560s); nascency.
U.S. stock exchange, founded 1971, an acronym from National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations.
Nashville Look up Nashville at
capital of Tennessee, U.S., named for Gen. Francis Nash (1742-1777) of North Carolina, U.S. Revolutionary War hero killed at the Battle of Germantown. The surname is attested from 1296 in Sussex Subsidy Rolls, atten Eysse, atte Nasche (with assimilation of -n- from a preposition; see N), meaning "near an ash tree," or "near a place called Ash." In reference to a type of country & western music that originated there, 1963.
nasopharynx (n.) Look up nasopharynx at
1877, from naso-, comb. form of Latin nasus "nose" (from PIE root *nas- "nose") + pharynx.
Nassau Look up Nassau at
capital of the Bahamas, from a site name attested from 1690s, in honor of King William III of England (1650-1702), of the House of Orange-Nassau, from the duchy of Nassau in western Germany, named for a village in the Lahn valley, from Old High German nass "wet." Related: Nassauvian.
nasturtium (n.) Look up nasturtium at
mid-12c., "plant of the mustard family, like watercress," from Latin nasturtium "cress;" the popular etymology explanation of the name (Pliny) is that it is from Latin *nasitortium, literally "nose-twist," from nasus "nose" (from PIE root *nas- "nose") + past participle of torquere "to twist" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist"); the plant so called for its pungent odor. Modern application to a South American trailing plant with orange flowers first recorded 1704.
nasty (adj.) Look up nasty at
c. 1400, "foul, filthy, dirty, unclean," of unknown origin; perhaps [Barnhart] from Old French nastre "miserly, envious, malicious, spiteful," shortened form of villenastre "infamous, bad," from vilain "villain" (see villain) + -astre, pejorative suffix, from Latin -aster.

Alternative etymology [OED] is from Dutch nestig "dirty," literally "like a bird's nest." Likely reinforced in either case by a Scandinavian source (compare Swedish dialectal naskug "dirty, nasty"), which also might be the source of the Middle English word. Of weather, from 1630s; of things generally, "unpleasant, offensive," from 1705. Of people, "ill-tempered," from 1825. Noun meaning "something nasty" is from 1935. Related: Nastily; nastiness.
natal (adj.) Look up natal at
late 14c., "of or pertaining to birthdays," from Latin natalis "pertaining to birth or origin," from natus, past participle of nasci "to be born" (Old Latin gnasci), from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget."
Natalie Look up Natalie at
fem. proper name, from French Natalie, from Church Latin Natalia, from Latin (dies) natalis "birthday," in Church Latin, "Christmas Day," from natalis "pertaining to birth or origin," from natus, past participle of nasci "to be born" (Old Latin gnasci), from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget." Probably originally a name for one born on Christmas.
natality (n.) Look up natality at
late 15c., "birth," from natal + -ity. Sense of "birth rate" is from 1884, from French natalité, used in the same sense.
natant (adj.) Look up natant at
1707, from Latin natantem, present participle of natare "to swim," frequentative of nare "to swim" (from PIE root *sna- "to swim").
Natasha Look up Natasha at
fem. proper name, from Russian pet form of Natalya (see Natalie).
natation (n.) Look up natation at
1650s, from Latin natationem (nominative natatio), noun of action from past participle stem of natare "to swim" (from PIE root *sna- "to swim").
natatorial (adj.) Look up natatorial at
1816, from natatory (adj.), from Latin natatorius, from natator "swimmer" (from PIE root *sna- "to swim") + -al (1).
natatorium (n.) Look up natatorium at
1890, New Englandish word for "swimming pool," from Latin natator "swimmer" (from nare "to swim") + -ium, neuter suffix. Latin nare is from PIE root *sna- "to swim." Middle English had natatorie "a pool, bath," early 14c., from Latin.
natch Look up natch at
colloquial shortening of naturally, jive talk, first recorded 1945.
Natchez Look up Natchez at
Indian people of the lower Mississippi valley, of unknown origin.
Nathan Look up Nathan at
masc. proper name, biblical prophet, from Hebrew Nathan, literally "he has given," from verb nathan, related to mattan "gift."
Nathaniel Look up Nathaniel at
masc. proper name, from Late Latin Nathanael, from Greek Nathanael, from Hebrew Nethan'el, literally "God has given" (see Nathan).
nation (n.) Look up nation at
c. 1300, from Old French nacion "birth, rank; descendants, relatives; country, homeland" (12c.) and directly from Latin nationem (nominative natio) "birth, origin; breed, stock, kind, species; race of people, tribe," literally "that which has been born," from natus, past participle of nasci "be born" (Old Latin gnasci), from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.

Political sense has gradually predominated, but earliest English examples inclined toward the racial meaning "large group of people with common ancestry." Older sense preserved in application to North American Indian peoples (1640s). Nation-building first attested 1907 (implied in nation-builder).
national (adj.) Look up national at
1590s, from Middle French national (from Old French nation), and also from nation + -al (1). As a noun, "citizen of a (particular) nation," from 1887. National anthem first recorded 1819, in Shelley. Related: Nationally.
nationalism (n.) Look up nationalism at
1844, "devotion to one's country;" see nationalist + -ism; in some usages from French nationalisme. Earlier it was used in a theological sense of "the doctrine of divine election of nations" (1836). Later it was used in a sense of "doctrine advocating nationalization of a country's industry" (1892).
nationalist (n.) Look up nationalist at
"one devoted to his nation," 1715, from national in a now obsolete sense of "patriotic" (1711) + -ist. Related: Nationalistic; nationalistically.
nationality (n.) Look up nationality at
1690s, "national quality," from national + -ity (in some usages perhaps from French nationalité. As "fact of belonging to or being a citizen of a particular state," from 1828, gradually shading into "race, ethnicity." Meaning "separate existence as a nation" is recorded from 1832. Related: Nationalities.
But I do love a country that loves itself. I love a country that insists on its own nationality which is the same thing as a person's insisting on his own personality. [Robert Frost, letter, April 21, 1919]
nationalization (n.) Look up nationalization at
1801, "act of rendering national in character," from nationalize + -ation. Meaning "act of bringing (property) under control of the national government" is from 1874.
nationalize (v.) Look up nationalize at
1800, "invest with a national character," from national + -ize. Meaning "bring under state control" is from 1869. Related: Nationalized; nationalizing.
nationhood (n.) Look up nationhood at
1840, from nation + -hood.
nationwide (adj.) Look up nationwide at
1915, from nation + wide.
native (n.) Look up native at
mid-15c., "person born in bondage," from native (adj.), and in some usages from Medieval Latin nativus, noun use of nativus (adj.). Compare Old French naif, also "woman born in slavery." From 1530s as "person who has always lived in a place." Applied from mid-17c. to original inhabitants of non-European nations where Europeans hold political power, for example American Indians (by 1630s); hence, used contemptuously of "the locals" from 1800. Related: Natives.
native (adj.) Look up native at
late 14c., "natural, hereditary, connected with something in a natural way," from Old French natif "native, born in; raw, unspoiled" (14c.) and directly from Latin nativus "innate, produced by birth," from natus, past participle of nasci (Old Latin gnasci) "be born," related to gignere "beget," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.

From late 15c. as "born in a particular place." From early 15c. as "of one's birth," also used from mid-15c. in sense of "bound; born in servitude or serfdom," also, as a noun "a bondsman, serf." Native American attested from 1956.
nativism (n.) Look up nativism at
U.S. anti-immigrant movement, 1845, from native (adj.) + -ism. Later used in other contexts. Related: Nativist.
nativity (n.) Look up nativity at
c. 1200, from Old French nativité "birth" (12c.), from Late Latin nativitatem (nominative nativitas) "birth," from Latin nativus "born, native" (see native (adj.)). Late Old English had nativiteð, from earlier Old French nativited.
nativize (v.) Look up nativize at
1933, in linguistics, from native (adj.) + -ize. Related: Nativized; nativizing.
NATO Look up NATO at
acronym of North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was set up in 1949.
natron (n.) Look up natron at
1680s, from French natron (1660s), which is said to be directly from Arabic natrun, itself from Greek nitron, itself possibly of Eastern origin (see nitre). Medieval Latin and Paracelsus (16c.) had a form anatron, from Arabic with the article assimilated (an-natron). It is the source of the chemical symbol Na for sodium and the word-forming element natro-, used in the names of minerals to indicate the presence of sodium.
natter (v.) Look up natter at
"grumble, chatter aimlessly, nag," 1829, northern England dialect variant of gnatter "to chatter, grumble," earlier (18c.) "to nibble away," probably of echoic origin. Related: Nattered; nattering. As a noun, 1866, from the verb.
natterjack (n.) Look up natterjack at
1769, rare kind of British toad with a yellow stripe on its back; second element probably proper name jack (q.v.); for first element, Weekley suggests connection with attor "poison" (see attercop).
natty (adj.) Look up natty at
1785, "neat, smart," originally slang, perhaps an altered form of 16c. nettie "neat, natty," from Middle English net "pure, fine, elegant" (see neat). Related: Nattily.
natural (adj.) Look up natural at
c. 1300, naturel, "of one's inborn character; hereditary, by birth;" early 14c. as "of the world of nature (especially as opposed to man)," from Old French naturel "of nature, conforming to nature; by birth," and directly from Latin naturalis "by birth, according to nature," from natura "nature" (see nature).

From late 15c. as "not miraculous, in conformity with nature." Meaning "easy, free from affectation" is attested from c. 1600. Of things, "not artificially created," c. 1600. As a euphemism for "illegitimate, bastard" (of children), it is first recorded c. 1400, on notion of blood kinship (but not legal status).

Natural science is from late 14c.; natural law is from early 15c. Natural order "apparent order in nature" is from 1690s. Natural childbirth first attested 1933. Natural life, usually in reference to the duration of life, is from late 15c. Natural history is from 1560s (see history). To die of natural causes is from 1570s.
natural (n.) Look up natural at
"person with a natural gift or talent," 1925, originally in prizefighting, from natural (adj.). In Middle English, the word as a noun meant "natural capacity, physical ability or power" (early 14c.), and it was common in sense "a native of a place" in Shakespeare's day. Also in 17c., "a mistress."
natural-born (adj.) Look up natural-born at
1580s, from natural (adj.) + born.
naturalism (n.) Look up naturalism at
1630s, "action based on natural instincts," from natural + -ism. In philosophy, as a view of the world and humanity's relationship to it, from 1750. As a tendency in art and literature, from 1850.