Definition of forest in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈfɒrɪst/


1A large area covered chiefly with trees and undergrowth: a pine forest [mass noun]: a large tract of forest
More example sentences
  • Decades ago, these slopes were covered with forests, and the trees' root systems tied the soil to the hillsides.
  • Both ranges are soft from age but covered in brushy pine forests, knobby granite crags, and hiking and biking trails.
  • By contrast, the floor of pine forests was covered thinly by needles, and had much less absorptive capacity.
wood(s), woodland, trees, tree plantation, plantation;
archaic greenwood, holt
1.1 historical An area, typically owned by the sovereign and partly wooded, kept for hunting and having its own laws.
Example sentences
  • In medieval times the area was a hunting forest, roamed by deer, wild bear and wolves.
  • For people in the countryside, new laws such as those governing access to game or forests could criminalize what had been everyday activity.
  • The New Forest is the most intact surviving example in England of a medieval hunting forest.
1.2 [in place names] Denoting an area that was formerly a royal forest: Waltham Forest
More example sentences
  • Those near Brendan Byrne State Forest and the Chatsworth area in Burlington County are particularly rich.
  • Areas affected included Flamborough, Scarborough, Malton, Withernsea, Middlesbrough and Sutton on the Forest.
  • Those facing ruin include Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers.
2A large number or dense mass of vertical or tangled objects: a forest of high-rise apartments
More example sentences
  • A Satguru does not embroil the seeker in the dense forest of words and hymns.
  • As I rise into a gentle current, the intact railings provide a skeleton for a dense forest of marine life.
  • Ahead we encountered a dense forest of steel beams half a metre wide and just over a metre apart.


[with object] (usually as adjective forested)
Cover (land) with forest; plant with trees: a forested hillside
More example sentences
  • Working close to home at a school outdoor education lab or a nearby forested land can cut down on travel time.
  • Over 80 percent of the land area is still forested, and only 2.5 percent is cultivated.
  • By the time, you get to Dunkeld, the roads and rivers are fast and wide and surrounded by deep green forested hillsides.



Pronunciation: /ˌfɒrɪˈsteɪʃ(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • Users can ‘fly’ over the Yorkshire landscape from the Humber to the Yorkshire Wolds in both Roman and Iron Age times, viewing dense forestation long since destroyed, and see the locations of Roman roads, townships and fortresses.
  • Within a generation, if current trends continue, America could return to levels of forestation last seen by the Pilgrims.
  • Occasionally these communities have created disasters of their own making, through inappropriate irrigation practices and over-zealous forestation.


Middle English (in the sense 'wooded area kept for hunting', also denoting any uncultivated land): via Old French from late Latin forestis (silva), literally '(wood) outside', from Latin foris 'outside' (see foreign).

  • 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 forest

afforest, florist, Forrest

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: for¦est

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.