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From Middle English forest, from Old French forest, from Medieval Latin foresta (open wood), borrowing from Frankish *forhist (collective noun of *forha), from Proto-Germanic *furhō, *furahō (fir, pine), from Proto-Indo-European *pérkus (oak), first used in the Capitularies of Charlemagne in reference to the royal forest (as opposed to the inner woods, or parcus). See also Latin quercus.

Displaced native Middle English weald, wald (forest, weald), from Old English weald, Middle English scogh, scough (forest, shaw), from Old Norse skógr, and Middle English frith, firth (forest, game preserve), from Old English fyrhþ, from the same root.

A forest.


  • (Received Pronunciation) enPR: fŏr′ĭst, IPA(key): /ˈfɒɹɪst/
  • (file)
  • (US) enPR: fôr′ĭst, fŏr′ĭst, fôr′ĕst, fŏr′ĕst, fôrst, IPA(key): /ˈfɔɹɪst/, /ˈfɑɹɪst/, /ˈfɔɹɛst/, /ˈfɑɹɛst/, /fɔɹst/
  • (file)
  • Homophone: forced (some American accents)


forest (plural forests)

  1. A dense collection of trees covering a relatively large area. Larger than woods.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. [], London: Printed [by John Wolfe] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938, book I, canto VI, stanza 3, page 76:
      Who after Archimagoes fowle defeat / Led her away into a foreſt wilde, / And turning wrathfull fyre to luſtfull heat, / With beaſtly ſin though her to haue defilde, / And made the vaſſal of his pleaſures vilde.
    • 2013 June 29, “Unspontaneous combustion”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 29:
      Since the mid-1980s, when Indonesia first began to clear its bountiful forests on an industrial scale in favour of lucrative palm-oil plantations, “haze” has become an almost annual occurrence in South-East Asia. The cheapest way to clear logged woodland is to burn it, producing an acrid cloud of foul white smoke that, carried by the wind, can cover hundreds, or even thousands, of square miles.
  2. Any dense collection or amount.
    a forest of criticism
    • 1998, Katharine Payne, Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants (page 59)
      Squealing and still propelled by the kick, the calf scrabbled through the forest of legs and into the open.
  3. (historical) A defined area of land set aside in England as royal hunting ground or for other privileged use; all such areas.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, in Internal Combustion[1]:
      Throughout the 1500s, the populace roiled over a constellation of grievances of which the forest emerged as a key focal point. The popular late Middle Ages fictional character Robin Hood, dressed in green to symbolize the forest, dodged fines for forest offenses and stole from the rich to give to the poor. But his appeal was painfully real and embodied the struggle over wood.
    • 2013, Alexander Tulloch, The Little Book of Lancashire, The History Press →ISBN
      [...] in places such as the Forest of Bowland there is hardly a tree in sight and much of the area is a vast tract of almost barren gritstone hills and peat moorland.
  4. (graph theory) A graph with no cycles; i.e., a graph made up of trees.
    • 2000, Victor N. Kasyanov, Vladimir A. Evstigneev, Graph Theory for Programmers: Algorithms for Processing Trees, Springer Science & Business Media (→ISBN), page 16:
      Let H be a traversal of an undirected graph G = (X, U). For given H, the set U can be split into set of tree edges from the forest GH and the set of inverse edges that do not belong to this forest.
  5. (computing, Microsoft Windows) A group of domains that are managed as a unit.
    • 2008, Laura E. Hunter, Robbie Allen, Active Directory Cookbook, O'Reilly Media, Inc. (→ISBN), page 17
      Forests are considered the security boundary in Active Directory; by this we mean that if you need to definitively restrict access to a resource within a particular domain so that administrators from other domains do not have any access to it whatsoever, you need to implement a separate forest instead of using an additional domain within the current forest.
  6. The colour forest green.



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See alsoEdit


forest (third-person singular simple present forests, present participle foresting, simple past and past participle forested)

  1. (transitive) To cover an area with trees.
    • 1937, Széchenyi Scientific Society, Report on the Work of the Széchenyi Scientific Society: Founded for the Promotion of Research in Natural Sciences in Hungary, Zeéchenyi Scientific Society, page 83:
      From the view-point of national economy professor Fehér communicates to us most interesting facts, which he has established in an important question now of actuality : in the subject of foresting the Great Hungarian Plains.

Related termsEdit


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Middle FrenchEdit


From Old French forest, from Medieval Latin foresta (open wood), first used in the Capitularies of Charlemagne in reference to the royal forest (as opposed to the inner woods, or parcus).


forest f (plural forests)

  1. forest
    • 1544, L’Arcadie-Trad-Massin, Paris:
      Mais quand il eut mis fin a ses parolles, & que semblablement les forestz resonnãtes se furent appaisées []
      But when he had finished talking, and the forests felt appeased []

Old FrenchEdit

Alternative formsEdit


From Medieval Latin foresta (open wood), first used in the Capitularies of Charlemagne in reference to the royal forest (as opposed to the inner woods, or parcus).


forest f (oblique plural forez or foretz, nominative singular forest, nominative plural forez or foretz)

  1. forest, royal hunting ground