Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English foreyn, forein, from Old French forain, from Vulgar Latin *forānus (outsider, outlander), from Latin forās (outside, outdoors), also spelled forīs (outside, outdoors).

Displaced native Old English elþēodiġ (foreign) and now-dialectal English fremd, from Old English fremde (strange, foreign).

The silent -g- added perhaps by analogy with reign (compare also sovereign which was similarly altered).



foreign (comparative more foreign, superlative most foreign)

  1. Located outside a country or place, especially one's own.
    foreign markets; foreign soil
    He liked visiting foreign cities.
  2. Originating from, characteristic of, belonging to, or being a citizen of a country or place other than the one under discussion.
    foreign car; foreign word; foreign citizen; foreign trade
    • 1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, chapter 2, in The Ayrsham Mystery[1]:
      The cane was undoubtedly of foreign make, for it had a solid silver ferrule at one end, which was not English hall–marked.
    • 2013 August 24, “Guardian warriors and golden eggs”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8850:
      Foreign companies love to complain about doing business in China. [] Amid such moans it is worth remembering that, for all the barriers that foreign multinationals face in China, it has welcomed them with open arms compared with the protectionism imposed by Japan and South Korea at comparable stages in their economic development.
    There are many more foreign students in Europe since the Erasmus scheme started.
  3. Relating to a different nation.
    foreign policy; foreign navies
  4. Not characteristic of or naturally taken in by an organism or system.
    foreign body;foreign substance;foreign gene;foreign species
  5. (with to, formerly with from) Alien; strange.
    It was completely foreign to their way of thinking.
    • 1708 December 15 (Gregorian calendar; date written), [Jonathan Swift], A Letter from a Member of the House of Commons in Ireland to a Member of the House of Commons in England, Concerning the Sacramental Test, London: [] John Morphew [], published 1709, →OCLC, page 14:
      [T]his deſign is not ſo foreign from ſome Peoples Thoughts, []
    • 1962 August, G. Freeman Allen, “Traffic control on the Great Northern Line”, in Modern Railways, page 133:
      Only when one has seen a Control Office at first-hand does one realise the vast amount of unsparing but largely unsung work that is behind the eventual publication, perhaps, of a paragraph in this journal's "Motive Power Miscellany" recording the appearance, within hours of the complete blockage of a main line, of many of its trains, passenger and freight, on routes quite foreign to them; and of effective emergency services either side of the disaster area.
  6. (obsolete) Held at a distance; excluded; exiled.
  7. (US, state law) From a different one of the states of the United States, as of a state of residence or incorporation.
  8. Belonging to a different organization, company etc.
    My bank charges me $2.50 every time I use a foreign ATM.
  9. (obsolete) Outside, outdoors, outdoor.



Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


foreign (plural foreigns)

  1. A foreign person, particularly:
    1. (now informal) A foreigner: a person from another country.
    2. (obsolete) An outsider: a person from another place or group.
    3. (obsolete) A non-guildmember.
  2. A foreign vehicle, particularly:
    1. (obsolete) A foreign ship.
    2. (slang) A foreign whip, a car produced abroad.
      • 2019 August 28, Yb Tak30ver (lyrics and music), “Island”‎[2], 1:16 :
        In the foreign switching lanes and we riding
        A island I wanna live somewhere silent
        I'm shining I'm bout to flood my neck with diamonds
        Yeah I've been spitting facts these niggas lying
        I'm driving stolens, foreigns, yeah I'm riding
  3. (obsolete) An outhouse; an outdoor toilet.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:bathroom
  4. A foreign area, particularly:
    1. (now dialect) An area of a community that lies outside the legal town or parish limits.
    2. (obsolete, usually in the plural) An area of a monastery outside its legal limits or serving as an outer court.
  5. Short for various phrases, including foreign language, foreign parts, and foreign service.



  • "foreign, adj. and n." in the Oxford English Dictionary (1897), Oxford: Oxford University Press.