Main Menu

Johnson’s Dictionary on native and natural

Samuel Johnson wrote a famous English dictionary published in 1755. Below is a transcription I made of the words “native” and “natural,” omitting the usage examples. You can view the text here.

NATIVE. adj. [nativus, Latin; natif-ve, Fr.]

[1.] Produced by nature; natural, not artificial.

2. Natural; such as is according to nature.

3. Conferred by birth.

4. Relating to birth, pertaining to the time or place of birth.

5. Original; natural.

NATIVE. n. s.

1. One born in any place; original inhabitant.

2. Offspring.

NATURAL. adj. [naturel, French, from nature.]

1. Produced or effected by nature.

2. Illegitimate

3. Bestowed by nature.

4. Not forced; not farfetched; dictated by nature.

5. Consonant to natural notions.

6. Tender; affectionate by nature.

7. Unaffected; according to truth and reality.

8. Opposed to violent; as a natural death.

NATURAL n.s. [from nature.]

1. An idiot; one whom nature debars for understanding; a fool.

2. Native; original inhabitant.

3. Gift of nature; nature ; quality.


I note that some of the definitions are shared between the two words.

21 Responses to Johnson’s Dictionary on native and natural

  1. avatar
    Lupin January 28, 2015 at 2:53 am #

    I’m not quite what you’re trying to demonstrate here. Vattel equals the two terms as he should, and a few days ago I wrote a message here with links to both US and French wiki about “natural rights” direct folks here to the section of Jan-Jacques Rousseau, who was a contemporary of Vattel and whose works in this matter greatly influenced the Swiss philosopher.

    Obviously one could pontificate for hours on the subject (and many have done so) but the key point to remember is that for Rousseau as for Vattel, the natural state (hypothetically) precedes that of the civilized state. Hence the notion that one is born with certain rights — inalienable ones — that it is society or civilization that starts slapping chains on “natural man”.

    The reason why I dispute that the term “natural-born citizen” is a goods translation for Vattel’s “naturel” (used as a noun) is because in Rousseau and Vattel’s philosophy the concept of “naturel” predates that of “citizen” — hence they are not the same.

  2. avatar
    ObligedFriend January 28, 2015 at 5:58 am #

    “the kindly fruits of the earth” The Book of Common Prayer

    “yearnings to be with her own natural kind” William Wordsworth

    “Were all thy children kind and natural” King Henry V, Shakespeare

    Natural is a Kind. The Founders used natural born and not born a citizen to limit the President to be their own natural kind.

    The term Naturalization in the 1790 Naturalization Act is genius. Since natural born is a kind so is Naturalization.

    Congress is limited by the Constitution to Naturalization. The intent of the Founders is the country being homogeneous not heterogeneous.

    Natural born is a Kind.

  3. avatar
    ObligedFriend January 28, 2015 at 6:04 am #

    Vattel used natives, Naturels, indigenes. These were the original citizens and their descendents are the natural born.

    I’m a natural, native, indigenes of the United States. I’m the same natural kind as the Founders.

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 28, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    And the English Common Law, the language in which the lawyers and statesmen who wrote our Constitution spoke, defines natural born subject as anyone born in the king’s dominion, whether their parents were alien or subject (excepting invading armies and ambassadors).

    ObligedFriend: Vattel used natives, Naturels, indigenes. These were the original citizens and their descendents are the natural born.

  5. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 28, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    For more on “natural kind” see here and here.

    ObligedFriend: Natural born is a Kind.

  6. avatar
    Thomas Brown January 28, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    ObligedFriend:
    Vattel used natives, Naturels, indigenes. These were the original citizens and their descendents are the natural born.

    I’m a natural, native, indigenes of the United States. I’m the same natural kind as the Founders.

    Would that be the founders who were all NOT born in the USA?

    You can make any argument you want that your understanding of what the founders meant by requiring a President to be a Natural Born Citizen is somehow the “real” one, but your opinion means nothing. What matters is how the Government, recognized experts like those at the Congressional Research Service (upon whom both parties rely for factual and legal background), and the Supreme Court interpret it.

    And they have all come to the conclusion that there are only two types of citizens: Natural Born and Naturalized. Period. The former can run for President, the latter cannot. That is the law of the land currently, whether you like it or not. And so Obama is a Natural Born Citizen.

    You think he isn’t? Tough toenails. Any arguments you make to the contrary are just a colossal waste of time and energy.

  7. avatar
    gorefan January 28, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    For more on “natural kind” see here and here.

    He’s back. That’s e.vattel your talking to. The “kind” was his nonsense.

  8. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 28, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Indications are that you are correct.

    gorefan: He’s back. That’s e.vattel your talking to. The “kind” was his nonsense.

  9. avatar
    Rickey January 28, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    Lupin:

    The reason why I dispute that the term “natural-born citizen” is a goods translation for Vattel’s “naturel” (used as a noun) is because in Rousseau and Vattel’s philosophy the concept of “naturel” predates that of “citizen” — hence they are not the same.

    Yes, it’s worth emphasizing that there is nothing natural about the concept of citizenship. Citizenship is a man-made construct, so the idea that nature confers citizenship is nonsense.

  10. avatar
    Lupin January 28, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    ObligedFriend:
    Vattel used natives, Naturels, indigenes. These were the original citizens and their descendents are the natural born.

    I’m a natural, native, indigenes of the United States. I’m the same natural kind as the Founders.

    Not quite. Vattel starts with the natural state, then because of this, “deduces” that citizenship is transmitted by blood (which includes all blood relatives) and within that set, by the father.

    That is indeed how it was done in “jus sanguinis:” countries in the 18th century, later codified by Napoleon.

    It is important to note that neither the Napoleonic code nor Vattel differentiates between the rights of naturel citizens and naturalized citizens.

    This has of course no relevance whatsoever on “jus soli” countries, the existence of which Vattel acknowledged and did not condemn.

    I need not state that laws were eventually passed in jus sanguinis countries to allow citizenship transmission by the mother and, eventually, make both parents equals in the eyes of the law.

    This is an interesting topic for, say, French lawyers; but again, it has zero relevance on your situation.

  11. avatar
    Pastor Charmley January 28, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    I was wondering when the archaic use of “Natural” as meaning “a fool” would appear.

  12. avatar
    Obligedfriend January 28, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    https://twitter.com/obligedfriend/status/560515413788733441. An example the meaning of natural being a Kind

  13. avatar
    Arthur January 28, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    Obligedfriend: An example the meaning of natural being a Kind

    What larger point are you trying to make?

  14. avatar
    Obligedfriend January 28, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    Natural born https://twitter.com/obligedfriend/status/560403204723048448

  15. avatar
    Obligedfriend January 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    https://twitter.com/obligedfriend/status/559997139728617472 Natural Born

  16. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater January 28, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Arthur: What larger point are you trying to make?

    That he has no idea what he’s talking about.

  17. avatar
    Obligedfriend January 28, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Numerous references in Google books Natural Kind Gecynde. https://www.google.com/search?q=Kind+Natural+Gecynde+Race+&btnG=Search+Books&tbm=bks&tbo=1&gws_rd=ssl#tbm=bks&q=Kind+Natural+Gecynde The Founders limited the President to their own natural kind. the term naturalization is a Kind.

  18. avatar
    Arthur January 28, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater: That he has no idea what he’s talking about.

    It looks like he’s tiptoeing around making a claim that Obama is ineligible because he’s not the right kind. Stupid, but you’d think he’d have the courage to just say it.

  19. avatar
    gorefan January 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    John Adams said that natural meant illegitimate. All US Presidents are required to be bastards.

    M. Marbois asked, are natural children admitted in America to all privileges like children born in wedlock ? I answered, They are not admitted to the rights of inheritance; but their fathers may give them estates by testament, and they are not excluded from other advantages. ”

    In France,” said M. Marbois, ” they are not admitted into the army nor any office in government.” I said, they were not excluded from commissions in the army, navy, or state, but they were always attended with a mark of disgrace. M. Marbois said this, no doubt, in allusion to Mr. F[ranklin].’s natural son, and natural son of a natural son. I let myself thus freely into this conversation, being led on naturally by the Chevalier and M. Marbois on purpose, because I am sure it cannot be my duty, nor the interest of my country, that I should conceal any of my sentiments of this man, at the same time that I do justice to his merits. It would be worse than folly to conceal my opinion of his great faults.

    John Adams Diary Vol III 19 page 221

  20. avatar
    Rickey January 28, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

    Arthur: It looks like he’s tiptoeing around making a claim that Obama is ineligible because he’s not the right kind. Stupid, but you’d think he’d have the courage to just say it.

    Have you looked at his Twitter avatar? He loves those Stars and Bars.

  21. avatar
    Lupin January 29, 2015 at 2:24 am #

    Rickey: Have you looked at his Twitter avatar? He loves those Stars and Bars.

    I agree. What he really means is that the US should be ruled by white anglo-saxon protestant males; no other need apply.