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[eyl-yuh n, ey-lee-uh n] /ˈeɪl yən, ˈeɪ li ən/
a resident born in or belonging to another country who has not acquired citizenship by naturalization (distinguished from citizen).
a foreigner.
a person who has been estranged or excluded.
a creature from outer space; extraterrestrial.
residing under a government or in a country other than that of one's birth without having or obtaining the status of citizenship there.
belonging or relating to aliens:
alien property.
unlike one's own; strange; not belonging to one:
alien speech.
adverse; hostile; opposed (usually followed by to or from):
ideas alien to modern thinking.
Origin of alien
1300-50; Middle English < Middle French < Latin aliēnus, equivalent to *alies- (ali-, base of alius other + -es- noun suffix) + -nus adj. suffix
Related forms
nonalien, noun, adjective
proalien, adjective
1. immigrant. 2. See stranger. 3. outcast. 7. exotic, foreign. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for alien
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The fifth had such an odd outline that Travis was reminded of Menlik's sketch of the alien.

    The Defiant Agents Andre Alice Norton
  • But there was no hint of such things in the alien literature.

    Dead Giveaway Gordon Randall Garrett
  • The rule of the alien and the negro was complete, with the latter holding the lions share of the offices.

    The Dixie Book of Days Matthew Page Andrews
  • No one knew as he knew the extent to which he was an alien in his family.

    The House of Pride Jack London
  • Antiseptic gauze and hot-water bottles were as alien as the Germans to her.

    Young Hilda at the Wars Arthur Gleason
British Dictionary definitions for alien


/ˈeɪljən; ˈeɪlɪən/
a person owing allegiance to a country other than that in which he lives; foreigner
any being or thing foreign to the environment in which it now exists
(in science fiction) a being from another world, sometimes specifically an extraterrestrial
unnaturalized; foreign
having foreign allegiance: alien territory
unfamiliar; strange: an alien quality in a work of art
(postpositive) and foll by to. repugnant or opposed (to): war is alien to his philosophy
(in science fiction) of or from another world
(transitive) (rare) to transfer (property, etc) to another
Derived Forms
alienage (ˈeɪljənɪdʒ; ˈeɪlɪə-) noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin aliēnus foreign, from alius other
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for alien

mid-14c., "strange, foreign," from Old French alien "alien, strange, foreign; an alien, stranger, foreigner," from Latin alienus "of or belonging to another, foreign, alien, strange," also, as a noun, "a stranger, foreigner," adjectival form of alius "(an)other" (see alias). Meaning "not of the Earth" first recorded 1920. An alien priory (c.1500) is one owing obedience to a mother abbey in a foreign country.


"foreigner, citizen of a foreign land," from alien (adj.). In the science fiction sense, from 1953.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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alien in Science
Introduced to a region deliberately or accidentally by humans. Starlings, German cockroaches, and dandelions are species that are alien to North America but have become widely naturalized in the continent. Compare endemic, indigenous.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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alien in the Bible

a foreigner, or person born in another country, and therefore not entitled to the rights and privileges of the country where he resides. Among the Hebrews there were two classes of aliens. (1.) Those who were strangers generally, and who owned no landed property. (2.) Strangers dwelling in another country without being naturalized (Lev. 22:10; Ps. 39:12). Both of these classes were to enjoy, under certain conditions, the same rights as other citizens (Lev. 19:33, 34; Deut. 10:19). They might be naturalized and permitted to enter into the congregation of the Lord by submitting to circumcision and abandoning idolatry (Deut. 23:3-8). This term is used (Eph. 2:12) to denote persons who have no interest in Christ.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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