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.
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.
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