In early use: †Nature personified (obsolete). Later: nature in various philosophical contexts; especially the inherent quality of a being or object.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Nathaniel Baxter (fl. 1569–1611), Church of England clergyman and author. From classical Latin physis nature from ancient Greek ϕύσις nature, in Hellenistic Greek also personified from ϕύειν to produce + -σις.