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[fawr-in, for-]
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  1. of, relating to, or derived from another country or nation; not native: foreign cars.
  2. of or relating to contact or dealings with other countries; connected with foreign affairs.
  3. external to one's own country or nation: a foreign country.
  4. carried on abroad, or with other countries: foreign trade.
  5. belonging to or coming from another district, province, etc.
  6. located outside a specific district, province, etc.
  7. Law.
    1. of or relating to law outside of local jurisdiction.
    2. of or relating to another jurisdiction, as of another nation or state.
  8. belonging to or proceeding from other persons or things: a statement supported by foreign testimony.
  9. not belonging to the place or body where found: foreign matter in a chemical mixture.
  10. not related to or connected with the thing under consideration: foreign to our discussion.
  11. alien in character; irrelevant or inappropriate; remote.
  12. strange or unfamiliar.
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Origin of foreign

1200–50; Middle English forein < Old French forain, forein < Vulgar Latin *forānus, derivative of Latin forās outside
Related formsfor·eign·ly, adverbfor·eign·ness, nounnon·for·eign, adjectivenon·for·eign·ness, nounpro·for·eign, adjectivequa·si-for·eign, adjectiveun·for·eign, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for foreign

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • His own situation was described as happy as it could be in a foreign land.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • A foreign stain floated on the surface, but never mingled with its waters.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Besides, this was the first foreign shore his foot had ever trodden.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • But he was a generous man and all meanness of spirit was foreign to his soul.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • The Jews were the subjects of a foreign race and money was scarce.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

British Dictionary definitions for foreign


  1. of, involving, located in, or coming from another country, area, people, etca foreign resident
  2. dealing or concerned with another country, area, people, etca foreign office
  3. not pertinent or relateda matter foreign to the discussion
  4. not familiar; strange
  5. in an abnormal place or positionforeign matter; foreign bodies
  6. law outside the jurisdiction of a particular state; alien
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Derived Formsforeignly, adverbforeignness, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old French forain, from Vulgar Latin forānus (unattested) situated on the outside, from Latin foris outside
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

Word Origin and History for foreign


mid-13c., ferren, foreyne "out of doors," from Old French forain "strange, foreign; outer, external, outdoor; remote, out-of-the-way" (12c.), from Medieval Latin foranus "on the outside, exterior," from Latin foris "outside," literally "out of doors," related to for1s "door," from PIE *dhwor-ans-, from root *dhwer- "door, doorway" (see door). Spelling altered 17c. perhaps by influence of reign, sovereign. Replaced native fremd. Sense of "not in one's own land" is first attested late 14c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper