- differing from or beyond what is normally found in or expected from nature; abnormal: preternatural strength
Origin of preternaturalMedieval Latin praeternaturalis
- Surpassing what is normal or usual; extraordinary: “Below his preternatural affability there is some acid and steel” (George F. Will).
- Transcending the natural or material order; supernatural.
Origin of preternaturalMedieval Latin praeternātūrālis, from Latin praeter nātūrām, beyond nature : praeter, beyond; see preterite + nātūra, nature; see Nature .
(comparative more preternatural, superlative most preternatural)
In modern secular use, refers to extraordinary but still natural phenomena, as in “preternatural talent". In religious and occult usage, used similarly to supernatural, meaning “outside of nature", but usually to a lower level than supernatural - it can be used synonymously (identical to supernatural), as a hypernym (a kind of supernatural), or a coordinate term (similar to supernatural, but a distinct category). For example, in Catholic theology, preternatural refers to properties of creatures like angels, while supernatural refers to properties of God alone.