Definition of native in English:



  • 1A person born in a specified place or associated with a place by birth, whether subsequently resident there or not.

    ‘a native of Montreal’
    • ‘A keen golfer, no doubt the native of Co. Clare will have more time now to enjoy his favourite hobby at Waterford Golf Club.’
    • ‘His wife, Margaret, who is a native of Louisburgh, has recently given birth to twins, a boy and a girl.’
    • ‘Now it has become a passion for the native of York, England.’
    • ‘The late Charlie was a native of this parish, having been born in Cloondrihara almost 94 years ago.’
    • ‘Indeed, Gabon's oil is making more Westerners rich than natives.’
    • ‘A Newtown native of the engineering class at University College Dublin received a special award at the recent conferring.’
    • ‘The native of Antiqua, West Indies, joined the Navy in 1974 at the age of 24.’
    • ‘It features the Italian Gardens in Heywood and would be a nice gift especially for those living overseas who are natives of the Parish of Ballinakill.’
    • ‘The native of Columbia, South Carolina picked up his instrument at a pretty early age, and knew right away what he wanted to do with it.’
    • ‘A native of Leicester, she's now a resident of Düsseldorf from where she runs an ‘assessment and certification’ consultancy.’
    • ‘On May 2, things got worse for the native of Los Angeles, as he tore his right quadriceps muscle and was placed on the disabled list.’
    • ‘The native of Heidelberg, Germany earned a fourth-place qualifying result, extending his streak of top-four starts for all five events this season.’
    • ‘The native of Waterford's Cannon Street, who now lives in Newrath, is very much a hands-on owner of his travel agency.’
    • ‘Jewish native of Wembley Park in North London, he moved to Israel thirty years ago, where he now makes a living running propaganda tours of Israel.’
    • ‘At one point, general consensus would have been that the native of Winnipeg was on the expressway to a comfortable folk music existence.’
    • ‘A native of Galway and a resident of Naas, she has become a legend for the hundreds of young people who've passed through the school in that time.’
    • ‘All donations will be gratefully accepted and people who live outside the parish but are natives of the area are encouraged to contribute.’
    • ‘This native of Central America has been a hit in parts of Europe including Spain, but the English were not so enthusiastic.’
    • ‘A native of Mission Viejo, his parents were born in Mexico and he fielded questions equally well in Spanish or English.’
    1. 1.1A local inhabitant.
      ‘New York in the summer was too hot even for the natives’
      • ‘When you travel overseas, you can get special microchips implanted in your tongue that allow you to speak the local language like a native.’
      • ‘After picking up a guitar for the first time when he was 18, the native of New York knew he'd found his calling.’
      • ‘This was wild, hard country, whose natives were master horsemen.’
      • ‘Local Kentucky natives are deeply offended, claiming his work denigrates Appalachia and the South.’
      • ‘A dashing pith helmet is certain to earn you respect from the local natives.’
      • ‘As always, the rule is to twig where the natives are munching, stalk the local well-fed and you'll never go far wrong.’
      • ‘A local Pasadena native, an acquaintance of mine, had told me that a fire at a pet store in Pasadena had broken out and some parrots escaped and that's why they were there.’
      • ‘After initial shyness and plenty of cajoling by the visitors who plunged into the crowd, a few volunteered to go on stage and learnt to swing like the natives of the island.’
      • ‘Drunken games of darts in the local were watched by taciturn natives seething with resentment about property prices.’
      • ‘The natives of wine countries are generally sober.’
      • ‘The smell did succeed in confusing the South African police; it made them think that the murderers might be natives of the city, because local people were fond of onion.’
      • ‘He said that while some had settled and considered themselves natives to their new country, many still viewed themselves as South Africans living abroad.’
      • ‘While in China, he had often disguised himself as a Chinese native and used the local language to move about the countryside.’
      • ‘It is on this note that I return to my native Scotland for the festive season, a country whose natives are labeled as being a stingy, frugal bunch that are not much prone to bouts of giving.’
      • ‘This injustice was a catalyst in the creation of Keep York Local, the political party which demands the city's natives should come first.’
      • ‘In the course of that day of drunken singing, their sober players took to the field with a mind-set to exhibit their football craft before the eyes of the little island natives.’
      • ‘A Gallup Poll in Moslem countries recently showed that the natives in these countries have a feeling that they are being left behind by the rest of the world.’
      inhabitant, resident, local
      citizen, national
      autochthon, indigene
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    2. 1.2offensive, dated A non-white original inhabitant of a country, as regarded by European colonists or travellers.
      ‘he led an expedition to New Guinea and was wounded by a native's spear’
    3. 1.3An animal or plant indigenous to a place.
      ‘the marigold is a native of southern Europe’
      • ‘The buzzard, although not a native of the Eastern Counties, is apt to appear in both Lincolnshire and Norfolk from time to time.’
      • ‘It is in fact a native of Australia, so common there that it is the emblem of the state of Western Australia.’
      • ‘In Thomas Horton's reign, he pruned back further, replacing with deciduous exotics and natives, including kauri planted in regimental lines.’
      • ‘It is the seed of the plant Vigna radiata, a native of India where it has for long been under cultivation.’
      • ‘The budgerigar is a native of the deserts of Australia.’
      • ‘But then again, most of our crops and many of our garden plants aren't natives either.’
      • ‘A white ruffle lining the middle of each petal distinguishes the plant from the two natives in the same genus.’
      • ‘The ruddy duck, a native of North America, is now interbreeding with its close relative.’
      • ‘Most of the recommended plants are North American natives.’
      • ‘The scrub that borders the tracks is overgrown with kudzu, an imported plant that strangles the natives.’
      • ‘The monk parakeet, a native of South America, has proved itself a hardy settler, able to survive the winter freezes of Chicago and Montreal.’
      • ‘A native of southern Africa, the quagga used to occur in vast herds in the Karoo regions of Cape Province and the southern part of Orange Free State.’
      • ‘Like many of our natives, these plants have small leaves, often aromatic and sometimes grey and hairy.’
      • ‘Plant some natives, especially at the edge of your yard.’
      • ‘Peter said natives like to be planted now as many of them enjoy the cold.’
      • ‘It also is a native of North America, but in the late 1870s was accidentally introduced to Europe.’
      • ‘A native of Eurasia, the adaptable Mute Swan inhabits fresh- and saltwater ponds, coastal lagoons, and bays.’
      • ‘This rule doesn't apply to natives planted in containers or rock gardens or in areas with sandy soil, where the moisture drains away quicker and needs to be replaced more often.’
    4. 1.4British An oyster reared in British waters.
      • ‘Pacific oysters are not as esteemed as natives but turning down a plate of spanking fresh Pacifics is simply misplaced snobbery.’
      • ‘I drank close to a bottle of Chablis the other day while they hammered away fruitlessly at half a dozen natives.’
      • ‘But when he asked himself a simple question - where can you buy Colchester natives in Colchester?’


  • 1Associated with the place or circumstances of a person's birth.

    ‘he's a native New Yorker’
    ‘her native country’
    • ‘And it's already had a two-year run in its native Japan.’
    • ‘She also posed for a 1955 painting in which he depicted her wearing the native dress commonly associated with Kahlo.’
    • ‘Argentine by birth, he became famous in his native country for a series of songs in the 1940s, but he also composed symphonic works and pieces for other solo instruments.’
    • ‘Then - despite the fact they cited their long distance relationship as one of the problems - she refused to leave her native Britain to live permanently with him in Hollywood.’
    • ‘The babies were globetrotting before they were even born as Maeve was pregnant with them when she and Ronan decided to move back to their native Cork city for the births.’
    • ‘The strongest influence on its native cuisine is Sicilian, although traditional grilled chops and other British specialties are popular, too.’
    • ‘Despite being raised from birth as a native new yorker to hate LA, Marissa doesn't.’
    • ‘He is strongly associated with Cambridge, but his native city is London.’
    • ‘He defiantly skirted the Italian coastline aboard his luxury yacht, taunting the authorities who had steadfastly refused to allow him to set foot in his native country for more than half a century.’
    • ‘The project will enable 14 family units or individuals to enjoy a good standard of accommodation, proximate to all facilities and close to their native communities.’
    • ‘But the man whose lack of education has barred him from effective lordship is, by birth, Anglo-Irish, and not native Irish at all.’
    • ‘British influence on the wine trade resulted from more complex circumstances than a simple lack of native wines, however.’
    • ‘He also said that the stolen properties were sent to his native village through his associate for disposal.’
    • ‘With his latest documentary, he examined the demolition of some urban slums which led to more homelessness in his native India.’
    • ‘This corps was never involved in the brutalities associated with other native police.’
    • ‘He has also been chosen to be a member of several prestigious art associations in his native Austria.’
    • ‘The harshness of both their native Sahara and their recent history comes through in the raw, hypnotic rhythms and guitar licks that are the backbone of their deep-desert blues rock.’
    mother, vernacular
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    1. 1.1Of the indigenous inhabitants of a place.
      ‘a ceremonial native dance from Fiji’
      • ‘It has seemed natural to them that, just as French is the language of France, so English is the native language of the inhabitants of England.’
      • ‘Feeling forced into areas inhabited by other native communities has led to unprecedented conflicts between the Mashco-Piro and the Native Amahuaca community of Santa Cruz.’
      • ‘The daily schedule of events includes storytelling, dance performances, and demonstrations of native crafts from throughout the state.’
      • ‘In the film a native chief says, ‘We thought we were the only living people in the world.’’
      • ‘What is most interesting about this movie is the gradual disappearance of native inhabitants and even of the mountain as backdrop.’
      • ‘The film is a statement against globalisation and its corrupting influence on the indigenous cultures and even native languages.’
      • ‘Thousands of people came to witness a mass where the pope declared Juan Diego the first indigenous or native saint in the Americas.’
      • ‘Before the arrival of the Europeans, Guyana was inhabited by several native groups.’
      • ‘Highlights of the day were the native dances and songs and other cultural shows presented by the various groups and the much fun-filled obstacle relay.’
      • ‘Here, even the tallest local peak, Tirich Mir, is inhabited by fairies, according to native folklore.’
      • ‘One need only note the permanent structures for sun dances and other native religious ceremonies that can be seen on most reserves.’
      • ‘Children at the Church Road school stared in awe as Francis performed some of his native Aborigine dance moves before introducing them to one of the world's oldest cultures.’
      • ‘Clothed in elaborate native costumes, Virsky isn't just acrobatic and passionate dance.’
      • ‘After the departure of the Romans from Britain, the native inhabitants retained a semblance of Roman institutions.’
      • ‘As part of the ceremony a woman was spreading eagle feathers on the crowd, sharing one of the most treasured possessions among native people, a true welcoming gesture.’
      • ‘But abstention from meat came naturally to the native inhabitants of India because of the climate.’
      • ‘There's an Indian dance called the Kathakali, from her native region of Kerala, that has been an influence on her storytelling.’
      • ‘The book's author is a historian and geologist who writes of the prehistory of the area, its geologic formation, and its native inhabitants.’
      • ‘The island was called Iere, meaning ‘the land of the hummingbird,’ by its native Amerindian inhabitants.’
      • ‘It is very important to recognize that the start of Canada, as we now know it, was the start of the oppression of the hundreds of nations of native people who are indigenous to here.’
      indigenous, aboriginal, original, first, earliest
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  • 2(of a plant or animal) of indigenous origin or growth.

    ‘eagle owls aren't native to Britain’
    ‘Scotland's few remaining native pinewoods’
    • ‘This genus of cactus is native to the Caribbean and the United States, although Cactoblastis is not.’
    • ‘The shrub's sheer tenacity makes it difficult to eradicate as it forms dense thickets that retard native trees' growth.’
    • ‘The African dwarf clawed frog is native to rain forests of central and western Africa and is a common pet in household aquariums.’
    • ‘Recent precipitation patterns bode well for spring growth of alfalfa and native grasses.’
    • ‘Since American Black ducks are not native to Washington, this decline is not of major conservation concern in our state.’
    • ‘There are also over 150 illustrations of native trees, common flowering plants and shrubs, as well as many animal species.’
    • ‘The tree is native to South America but is widely cultivated throughout the tropics.’
    • ‘Many species of native shrubs, vines and herbaceous plants were observed along hedgerows.’
    • ‘This species is native to lakes and streams in the St. Lawrence, Great Lakes, and Mississippi River systems.’
    • ‘By that criterion, more than a dozen long-nosed fly species are native to southern Africa.’
    • ‘The fires also suppress exotic cool-season grasses and stimulate growth among native grasses.’
    • ‘The course is lined with beautiful oak trees, native grasses and plants.’
    • ‘Both shrub species are native to Germany and are diffuse-porous.’
    • ‘If a tree is native to the cold, damp forests of Japan or Minnesota, it just won't thrive in a place like Los Angeles.’
    • ‘Others doubt the story because peach trees are not native to the area.’
    • ‘Eastern tent caterpillars and wild black cherry trees are native to Central Kentucky.’
    • ‘In that time we have planted more than 54,000 native trees and shrubs and reintroduced 88,000 herbaceous plants citywide.’
    • ‘The cinchona tree is native to the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in South America.’
    • ‘Wild ancestors of domestic cattle, donkeys, pigs, dogs and domestic cats were native to North Africa, Southwest Asia and most probably India.’
    • ‘The species is native to South Africa, but is now widespread in south-western Australia, being especially abundant on roadsides and wasteland.’
    domestic, home-grown, home-made, home, local
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    1. 2.1Australian, NZ Used in names of animals or plants resembling others familiar elsewhere, e.g. native bee.
  • 3(of a quality) belonging to a person's character from birth; innate.

    ‘some last vestige of native wit prompted Guy to say nothing’
    • ‘Though in a country renowned world-wide for its sparkling native wit and love of word play, you have to be better than good to make it to the top.’
    • ‘That's folk wisdom reflective of the depth of native wit and imagination.’
    • ‘This extra dose of reality also means the irritating hack's native wit and exemplary patter is no longer enough to get him out of trouble.’
    • ‘Because of that freedom, you can gather the fruits of your labor, develop your native qualities, and gain the respect of others.’
    • ‘Similarly, I wonder about textual and traditional derivatives that establish the personification sets/traits that we think of as native qualities of an animal.’
    • ‘She may have been living in Los Angeles for a long time, but she has the native intelligence for the character and never feels out of place.’
    innate, inherent, inborn, intrinsic, instinctive, instinctual, intuitive, natural, natural-born, deep-seated, deep-rooted
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  • 4(of a metal or other mineral) found in a pure or uncombined state.

    • ‘The most spectacular inclusions are bands of native copper that are in and follow the chalcedony concentric banding of the agate.’
    • ‘The most spectacular inclusions are bands of native copper that parallel the concentric banding of the agate.’
    • ‘In the silver case, there is a particularly fine featherlike dendrite of native silver from the La Nevada mine, Chihuahua, Mexico.’
    • ‘The copper contains many angular molds of calcite crystals and even a small group of native silver crystals; the matrix is a mineralized basalt.’
    • ‘Rich ores locally containing abundant native silver were mined at numerous localities in New Mexico.’
    • ‘This unique form of datolite hails from the legendary Lake Superior copper deposits, home to the world's largest occurrence of native copper.’
    • ‘Most of the minerals present in the conglomerate lodes belong to the same general period of copper mineralization that occurred in all the native copper deposits.’
    • ‘The major mineral species of silver are native silver and acanthite, but kuestellite and electrum are present.’
    • ‘Microscopic examination of datolite nodules from a number of localities shows that native copper is probably the most common impurity.’
    • ‘There are also reliable reports of native mercury found at the mine.’
    • ‘Other silver minerals reported were native silver, argentite, freibergite, and hessite.’
    • ‘The simplest ore minerals are the native metals in which the mineral is composed of a single element.’
    • ‘Associated minerals are native gold, lead, and zinc.’
    • ‘In addition, native silver showed its shiny face within the copper.’
    • ‘Some of the turquoise from their mine contains limonite intergrown with thin layers of native gold.’
    • ‘It is reported from several localities on the Faroes, such as Suduroy, where it occurs with mesolite and native copper.’
    • ‘Production through 1572 was primarily native silver and chlorargyrite.’
    • ‘Acanthite is also found there included in gypsum with native silver.’
    • ‘Gold most commonly occurs as a pure metal called native gold or as a natural alloy with silver called electrum.’
    • ‘A large sheet of native copper marks the entrance to the gallery.’
  • 5Computing
    Designed for or built into a given system, especially denoting the language associated with a given processor, computer, or compiler, and programs written in it.

    • ‘It also requires you understand how to write Python extension modules in a language that compiles to native code.’
    • ‘It was never designed to be a native client/server system.’
    • ‘This article has highlighted the importance of storage granularity and indexing within the design of a native XML database.’
    • ‘If you get in too much trouble using the installation program, you can always use your system's native package tool to install manually.’
    • ‘Early programmers worked in native computer code or machine language.’


In contexts such as a native of Boston or New York in the summer was too hot even for the natives the noun native is quite acceptable. But when it is used to mean ‘a non-white original inhabitant of a country’, as in this dance is a favourite with the natives, it is more problematic. This meaning has an old-fashioned feel and, because of its associations with a colonial European outlook, it may cause offence


  • go native

    • humorous, derogatory (of a person living away from their own country or region) abandon one's own culture, customs, or way of life and adopt those of the country or region one is living in.

      ‘entranced by this vision of social harmony, he begins to go native’
      • ‘That's for tourists, and these guys went native a long time ago.’
      • ‘Does this bespeak the subconscious choice of a position between cultures, observing from without rather than going native?’
      • ‘In other regions, Norman nobles married the daughters of Irish chiefs and went native.’
      • ‘He rejects suggestions that his almost 30 years of involvement in the region has caused him to go native, claiming it takes years even to begin to grapple with its complexities.’
      • ‘While I've gone native in many respects - honking my horn to say hello, sucking my teeth when I get annoyed, and so on - there are still things that mark me out as a foreigner.’


Late Middle English: from Latin nativus, from nat- born, from the verb nasci.