"of or pertaining to a nation or a country regarded as a whole; established and maintained by the nation; peculiar to the whole people of a country," 1590s, from Middle French national (from Old French nation), and also from nation + -al (1). From 1711 as "characterized by attachment or devotion to one's own race or country or its institutions." As a noun, "citizen of a (particular) nation," from 1887. National anthem first recorded 1819, in Shelley. Related: Nationally.