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nature (n.)

13世纪末, “身体的恢复力, 身体过程; 生长的力量;” 来自古法语 nature “自然, 存在, 生命的原则; 性格, 本质”, 来自拉丁语 natura “事物的过程; 自然的性格, 构成, 质量; 宇宙”, 字面意思是“出生”, 来自 natus “出生”, nasci “生下来” 的过去分词, 来自PIE根 *gene- “生出, 生出”.

到14世纪中叶为“物质世界的力量或过程; 产生生物和维持秩序的东西”. 从14世纪晚期开始作为“创造, 宇宙”; 也有“遗传, 出生, 遗传的环境; 基本素质, 内在构成, 先天性情” (如 human nature); 也有“自然人格化, 自然母亲”. 从莎士比亚的“暴风骤雨” 开始, Naturenurture, 就开始了配对和对比.

The phrase “nature and nurture” is a convenient jingle of words, for it separates under two distinct heads the innumerable elements of which personality is composed. Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; nurture is every influence from without that affects him after his birth. [Francis Galton, “English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture,” 1875]

具体为“人类文明或社会之外的物质世界; 一种原始的, 野性的, 未被驯化的状态”, 从16世纪60年代开始, 特别是在 state of nature “人在有组织的社会之前的状态”. Nature-worship “神化物理自然现象的宗教” 到1840年.

Nature should be avoided in such vague expressions as 'a lover of nature, ' 'poems about nature. ' Unless more specific statements follow, the reader cannot tell whether the poems have to do with natural scenery, rural life, the sunset, the untouched wilderness, or the habits of squirrels. [Strunk & White, “The Elements of Style,” 3rd ed. , 1979]

Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,
Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law—
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed—
[Tennyson, from “In Memoriam” ]

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Definitions of nature from WordNet

nature (n.)
the essential qualities or characteristics by which something is recognized;
the true nature of jealousy
it is the nature of fire to burn
nature (n.)
a causal agent creating and controlling things in the universe;
the laws of nature
nature has seen to it that men are stronger than women
nature (n.)
the natural physical world including plants and animals and landscapes etc.;
they tried to preserve nature as they found it
nature (n.)
the complex of emotional and intellectual attributes that determine a person's characteristic actions and reactions;
it is his nature to help others
nature (n.)
a particular type of thing;
matters of a personal nature
he's interested in trains and things of that nature
From wordnet.princeton.edu