Definition of foreign in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfɒrɪn/


1Of, from, in, or characteristic of a country or language other than one’s own: foreign currency a man with a foreign accent
More example sentences
  • And a beautiful thing, for me, was that most spoke with foreign accents and in foreign languages.
  • My life has been spent pretty equally between the two countries, and I flatter myself I speak both languages without any foreign accent.
  • Thousands of foreigners, with foreign currency and language, needed to have a special market set up.
overseas, distant, remote, far off, far flung, external, outside;
alien, non-native, adventitious
1.1Dealing with or relating to other countries: foreign policy
More example sentences
  • No. Are they offering us a new foreign policy or another way of dealing with dictators and terrorists?
  • Lawyers and those dealing with foreign affairs have a smooth week ahead.
  • Taubman recounts all of his subject's most significant dealings, both in terms of foreign and domestic policy.
1.2Of or belonging to another district or area: a visit to a foreign clan
More example sentences
  • The park has also meant a significant tourism boost to the West Kildare area with Irish and foreign tourists coming in increasing numbers.
  • The regency's plan to fight the move has gained support from 200 industrial firms in the area that employ foreign workers.
  • The estate is now back to its original 80,000 acres - the largest area owned by a foreign citizen in the United Kingdom.
1.3Coming or introduced from outside: the quotation is a foreign element imported into the work
More example sentences
  • Lawyers protested that it would expose clients to unreasonable pressure, and introduce a foreign element into the court.
  • Now introduce two types of foreign elements - lets say bacteria and viruses.
  • This label encompasses processes such as deleting a gene from or introducing a foreign gene into a plant's DNA.
2Strange and unfamiliar: I suppose this all feels pretty foreign to you
More example sentences
  • It felt too strange, too foreign, like she'd forsaken all of her unknown past.
  • There is a tendency to regard extremism and reaction within a part of the Muslim community in the west as something intrinsically strange or foreign.
  • We're so used to the idea of the media as something that we're privileged to have, that the idea of it actively coming to us is foreign and strange.
unfamiliar, unknown, unheard of, strange, alien, exotic, outlandish, odd, peculiar, curious, bizarre, weird, queer, funny;
novel, new
2.1 (foreign to) Not belonging to or characteristic of: crime and brutality are foreign to our nature
More example sentences
  • Thereafter, when Yohanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior so foreign to his character.
  • Any use that is not utterly foreign to its character as a motor vehicle is, I consider, covered by the words.
  • If we take a look at the human rights history in Indonesia, the issue of human rights should not have been foreign to the country.
irrelevant, not pertinent, inappropriate, inapposite, extraneous, unrelated, unconnected;
outside, distant from, remote from, disconnected from, different from
rare extrinsic



Pronunciation: /ˈfɒrɪnnəs/
Example sentences
  • There was this very basic familiarity - and then utter foreignness.
  • However, having struggled with the nuances of the American language, I have found it more beneficial to adapt to my alien environment rather than advertise my foreignness with a pint of beer and a fresh rendition of ‘Rule Britannia’.
  • But the fact that they were able to make their displeasure felt in a way that deterred further crackdowns is a testament not to their foreignness but to their newfound political clout.


Middle English foren, forein, from Old French forein, forain, based on Latin foras, foris 'outside', from fores 'door'. The current spelling arose in the 16th century, by association with sovereign.

  • forest from Middle English:

    You would not necessarily link forest and foreign, but they have the same Latin root. Forest came via French from the Latin phrase forestis silva, literally ‘wood outside’, from foris ‘out of doors, outside’ and silva ‘a wood’. The first word moved into English and became our ‘forest’. In early use forest had a special legal sense. It was an area, usually belonging to the king, that was intended for hunting, a mixture of woodland, heath, scrub, and farmland not as thickly wooded as forests today. It had its own forest laws, and officers appointed to enforce them. The New Forest in Hampshire was reserved as Crown property by William the Conqueror in 1079 as a royal hunting area, and still has its own rules and officers, or verderers (mid 16th century), a word that comes from Latin viridis, ‘green’—compare the expression greenwood (Middle English). Forfeit (Middle English) which originally meant ‘a crime or offence’, with the meaning of a fine or penalty developing from this, is also from foris, as are forum, literally ‘what is out of doors’ in Latin, but used to mean ‘market place’ and then ‘meeting place’. Forensic (mid 17th century) comes from Latin forensis ‘in open court, public’, from forum. Because we so often hear the expression forensic science in the context of solving a mystery, it is sometimes forgotten that the term means the application of medical knowledge to support the law.

Words that rhyme with foreign

Corin, florin

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: for|eign

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