[ fawr-uh-ner, for- ]
/ ˈfɔr ə nər, ˈfɒr- /
Save This Word!

Definition of foreigner

a person not native to or naturalized in the country or jurisdiction under consideration; alien.
a person from outside one's community.
a thing produced in or brought from a foreign country.
Nautical. a foreign vessel.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of foreigner

First recorded in 1375–1425, foreigner is from the late Middle English word foreiner. See foreign, -er1

synonym study for foreigner

1. See stranger.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is a foreigner?

A foreigner is a person from a different country than the one being referred to, as in The country was welcoming to foreigners from neighboring countries.

Foreigner is a noun form of the adjective foreign, which is used to describe someone or something that is from another place, particularly another country, as in foreign country and foreign language.

Foreigner can be used more generally to mean a person from outside someone’s community or group.

The word foreigner is similar to words like stranger and outsider, referring to a person who is from outside a community. However, foreigner implies that a person has different customs and culture or speaks a different language. Sometimes, foreigner is used negatively to harshly judge or discriminate against a person’s culture, customs, language, or country. It implies that the person or people being discussed are not acceptable in some way—that they don’t belong where they are. Although foreigner can be used in a neutral way, it can also be used in a way that’s very offensive.

Words like immigrant, refugee, and tourist more specifically indicate a person’s status.

Example: The secluded island nation was known for being distrustful of foreigners and rarely allowed visitors from other countries.

Where does foreigner come from?

The first records of the term foreigner come from around the 1370s. Its base word, foreign, ultimately comes from the Latin forus, meaning “out of doors.” The first records of foreign meaning “from another place” come from around the 1370s.

Foreigner can be used in a neutral way, such as in the discussion of international topics like economics, travel, and tourism. However, its association with racism and xenophobia has motivated many people to avoid its use altogether in favor of other more neutral and direct terms.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to foreigner?

What are some synonyms for foreigner?

What are some words that share a root or word element with foreigner

What are some words that often get used in discussing foreigner?

How is foreigner used in real life?

The word foreigner can be used neutrally to describe people from other countries. However, it is sometimes used in very offensive ways to discriminate against people from other places or people who simply seem different in some way.



How to use foreigner in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for foreigner

/ (ˈfɒrɪnə) /

a person from a foreign country; alien
an outsider or interloper
something from a foreign country, such as a ship or product
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