Supernatural vs. Preternatural

By Jaxson

  • Supernatural

    The supernatural (Medieval Latin: supernātūrālis: supra “above” + naturalis “natural”, first used: 1520–1530 AD) are those things, or things that have been claimed to exist, which cannot be explained by the laws of nature, including things characteristic of or relating to ghosts, gods, or other types of spirits and other non-material beings, or to things beyond nature.

    Things such as lightning which were once thought to be supernatural have been shown to be entirely naturalistic, and some people claim that there is nothing supernatural. Such people maintain a skeptical attitude and belief.

  • Preternatural

    The preternatural or praeternatural is that which appears outside or beside (Latin præter) the natural. It is “suspended between the mundane and the miraculous”.

    In theology, the term is often used to distinguish marvels or deceptive trickery, often attributed to witchcraft or demons, from the purely divine power of the genuinely supernatural to violate the laws of nature. In the early modern period the term was used by scientists to refer to abnormalities and strange phenomena of various kinds that seemed to depart from the norms of nature.

  • Supernatural (adjective)

    Above nature; beyond or added to nature, often so considered because it is given by a deity or some force beyond that which humans are born with.

    “In Roman Catholic theology, sanctifying grace is considered to be a supernatural addition to human nature.”

    “Stephen King’s first novel is about a girl named Carrie dealing with supernatural powers.”

  • Supernatural (adjective)

    Not of the usual; not natural; altered by forces that are not understood fully if at all.

    “The house is haunted by supernatural forces.”

  • Supernatural (noun)

    A supernatural being

  • Supernatural (noun)

    Supernatural beings and events collectively when used with definite article: “the supernatural”

  • Preternatural (adjective)

    Beyond or not conforming to what is natural or according to the regular course of things; strange


  • Preternatural (adjective)

    Having an existence outside of the natural world.

  • Supernatural (adjective)

    (of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature

    “a supernatural being”

  • Supernatural (adjective)

    unnaturally or extraordinarily great

    “a woman of supernatural beauty”

  • Supernatural (noun)

    manifestations or events considered to be of supernatural origin, such as ghosts

    “a frightening manifestation of the supernatural”

Oxford Dictionary

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