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a. Not in accordance with what usually occurs in nature: a tree with an unnatural shape.
b. Not included in nature; artificial: detergents and other unnatural chemicals.
a. Deviating from a behavioral or social norm: a child's unnatural attachment to a doll.
b. Brutal or unfeeling: unnatural cruelty.
3. Stilted, affected, or awkward: an unnatural smile.

un·nat′u·ral·ly adv.
un·nat′u·ral·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



against the grain In opposition to one’s basic temperament, against one’s will. In this expression grain refers to the direction of the fibers in wood. Planing across the natural direction of the fibers is difficult. By analogy, the grain has come to mean the human disposition or will, as exemplified in the following:

… and that your minds,
Pre-occupied with what you rather must do
Than what you should made you against the grain
To voice him consul.
(Shakespeare, Coriolanus, II, iii)

A second explanation is that the phrase came from the French contre le gré ‘against the will,’ partially translated into English as against the gré, and so used by Samuel Pepys in his Diary.

fish out of water A person not in his regular environment; one working in a job unrelated to his chosen profession; someone who is restless, fidgety, or discontented because of his surroundings. A fish taken out of water begins flopping about in a desperate attempt to return to its natural habitat. Eventually, the lack of its regular environment kills the fish. Thus, a person who is restless or uncomfortable because of strange surroundings is often likened to a fish out of water.

a square peg in a round hole A person whose job is completely unsuited for him; a person who attempts a project or undertaking which is incompatible with his skills and background; also, a round peg in a square hole. This self-explanatory expression retains frequent use today.

Was there ever a more glaring case of square peg in round hole and round peg in square? (Westminster Gazette, December, 1901)

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.unnaturalness - the quality of being unnatural or not based on natural principlesunnaturalness - the quality of being unnatural or not based on natural principles
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone; "the quality of mercy is not strained"--Shakespeare
affectedness - the quality of being false or artificial (as to impress others)
artificiality - the quality of being produced by people and not occurring naturally
pretentiousness, pretension, largeness - the quality of being pretentious (behaving or speaking in such a manner as to create a false appearance of great importance or worth)
supernaturalness, supernaturalism - the quality of being attributed to power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces
naturalness - the quality of being natural or based on natural principles; "he accepted the naturalness of death"; "the spontaneous naturalness of his manner"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
And the consciousness of this unnaturalness, and the remorse he felt at it, made him even more unnatural.
The unnaturalness of her crime stood out the more harshly by the side of her hard immovability and obstinate silence.
(Ramballe despised both these kinds of love equally: the one he considered the "love of clodhoppers" and the other the "love of simpletons.") L'amour which the Frenchman worshiped consisted principally in the unnaturalness of his relation to the woman and in a combination of incongruities giving the chief charm to the feeling.
Even of passion on the stage they demanded that it should speak well, and they endured the unnaturalness of dramatic verse with rapture....
This could be explained by the possibility that some participants focused strictly on task performance and did not explore possible interactions, or the unnaturalness of interacting with the VE through the use of a 2D mouse.
There's also an unreal aspect, an unnaturalness to the evolution of the setting.
Thus, while the lack of behavioral discrimination in our experiments could be due to the unnaturalness of the testing situation, it seems more likely that juveniles are just indiscriminant.
Animals are being subsumed in a weird unnaturalness. Indeed, technology, which is forever pressing to remove animals from nature, to muddy and morph the remaining integrity of the animal kingdom, has rendered the word "natural" obsolete.
Moreover, in drawing attention to itself as artifice, the framing device as used here suggests an inherent unnaturalness in resolution.
I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed unhappily, as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent, death, dearth, dissolution, divisions, menaces.
In line 5 the expression would serve to emphasize the horror and unnaturalness of Attis' self-mutilating act, providing not only an idiomatic Latin expression, but a powerful and effective sense in context.
As one critic has suggested, "the fact that Bloom-as-woman manifests all the negative connotations of the female role also works to accentuate the unnaturalness of the feminine stereotype" (Boone 77).