From Middle English outlandisch, from Old English ūtlendisċ, from Proto-West Germanic *ūtlandisk, from Proto-Germanic *ūtlandiskaz. Related to Old English ūtland (foreign land, land abroad) (whence English outland). Sense of “bizarre” from 1590s.[1] By surface analysis, outland +‎ -ish. Cognate to German ausländisch, dated Dutch uitlands (now buitenlands), Swedish utländsk, “foreign, non-domestic”, Danish udenlandsk, Faroese útlendskur, all “foreign, non-domestic”.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /aʊtˈlæn.dɪʃ/, [aʊ̯tˈlæn.dɪʃ]
  • (US) IPA(key): /aʊtˈlæn.dɪʃ/, [aʊ̯tˈlæn.dɪʃ], [aʊ̯tˈlɛən.dɪʃ]
    • Audio (California):(file)
    • Audio (New Jersey):(file)
  • (General Australian) IPA(key): /æɔtˈlæn.dɪʃ/
  • Rhymes: -ændɪʃ



outlandish (comparative more outlandish, superlative most outlandish)

  1. Bizarre; strange.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:strange
    The rock star wore black with outlandish pink and green spiked hair.
    • 1915, W[illiam] Somerset Maugham, chapter CXIX, in Of Human Bondage, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, →OCLC:
      He was an outlandish figure, with his wide-brimmed hat and pointed beard, among those country folk, and it was easy to see that they thought him very queer; but his spirits were so high, his enthusiasm so contagious, that it was impossible not to like him.
    • 1961 July, “Talking of Trains: The Marylebone exhibition”, in Trains Illustrated, page 388:
      Except for an eye-catching sky-blue container boldly and attractively featuring the B.T.C.'s "door-to-door" arrow symbol [] , there were no outlandish colour schemes or lettering styles.
    • 1970, Robert M. Solow, Growth Theory: An Exposition, Oxford University Press, page 13:
      I hardly need to add that this story requires outlandish assumptions to make investment behaviour more passive than one would expect it to be in an industrial capitalist economy.
  2. (archaic) Foreign; alien.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:foreign
    Antonym: inlandish
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Nehemiah 13:26:
      Did not Solomon king of Israel sinne by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloued of his God, and God made him king ouer all Israel: neuerthelesse, euen him did outlandish women cause to sinne.
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, chapter VIII, in A Tale of Two Cities, London: Chapman and Hall, [], →OCLC:
      [] the two outlandish customers approached the counter, and showed what they wanted.
    • 1915, Virginia Woolf, chapter III, in The Voyage Out, London: The Hogarth Press, published 1949, →OCLC:
      I will take this occasion of adding that we are both enjoying ourselves in these outlandish parts, and only wish for the presence of our friends (yourself and John, to wit) to make the trip perfectly enjoyable as it promises to be instructive.

Derived terms





  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “outlandish”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.