alien

1 of 3

adjective

ˈā-lē-ən How to pronounce alien (audio)
ˈāl-yən
1
a
: belonging or relating to another person, place, or thing : strange
an alien environment
b
: relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government : foreign
alien residents
c
: exotic sense 1
alien plants
d
: coming from another world : extraterrestrial
alien beings
an alien spaceship
When it comes to knowing what alien life forms might be like, we don't have any idea.Kate Shuster
2
: differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility
ideas alien to democracy
alienly adverb
alienness
ˈā-lē-ən-nəs How to pronounce alien (audio)
ˈāl-yən-nəs
noun

alien

2 of 3

noun

1
a
: a person who is not of a particular group or place
aliens seeking asylum in the U.S.
In this way it came to pass that those scattered linen-weavers—emigrants from the town into the country—were to the last regarded as aliens by their rustic neighbours …George Eliot
… she whom we had deemed so … pious, at last died an alien from the church …Delia Salter Bacon
b
: a foreign-born resident who has not been naturalized and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country
broadly : a foreign-born citizen
2
: extraterrestrial
a movie about an invasion of Earth by monstrous aliens
3
: exotic sense 1
Russian thistle, kudzu, and other aliens

alien

3 of 3

verb

aliened; aliening; aliens

transitive verb

1
2
: to transfer the title of (property)
Choose the Right Synonym for alien

extrinsic, extraneous, foreign, alien mean external to a thing, its essential nature, or its original character.

extrinsic applies to what is distinctly outside the thing in question or is not contained in or derived from its essential nature.

sentimental value that is extrinsic to the house's market value

extraneous applies to what is on or comes from the outside and may or may not be capable of becoming an essential part.

arguments extraneous to the issue

foreign applies to what is so different as to be rejected or repelled or to be incapable of becoming assimilated.

techniques foreign to French cuisine

alien is stronger than foreign in suggesting opposition, repugnance, or irreconcilability.

a practice totally alien to her nature

Examples of alien in a Sentence

Adjective they were careful to learn of any alien business customs before trying to expand overseas it's completely alien to her nature to wish evil of anyone Noun aliens seeking asylum in the U.S. He claims that he was captured by space aliens. Verb such angry outbursts will rapidly alien any friends you might possibly have left the couple plans to alien the adjoining house lot to their eldest son
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
David Wall/Moment via Getty Images Step 6: Beware The Supernatural Some conspiracy theories – though none that have been proven – involve paranormal, alien, demonic or other supernatural forces. H. Colleen Sinclair, Discover Magazine, 9 May 2024 Contraction and cost-cutting, two themes alien to the expansive and expensive Cannes aesthetic, are now in vogue. Brent Lang, Variety, 9 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for alien 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alien.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, "foreign," borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin aliēnus "not one's own, of others, foreign, strange," derivative of alius "other" (perhaps going back to *aliai-nos, from an adverbialized locative derivative *aliai "elsewhere") — more at else

Noun

Middle English, "foreigner, outsider," borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin aliēnus "slave belonging to another person, foreigner, stranger," noun derivative of aliēnus, adjective, "not one's own, foreign" — more at alien entry 1

Verb

Middle English alienen "to transfer or surrender property rights, exclude," borrowed from Anglo-French aliener (Middle French, "to estrange, deprive of reason"), borrowed from Latin alienāre "to transfer (goods, property), lose possession of, render hostile" — more at alienate

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of alien was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near alien

Cite this Entry

“Alien.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alien. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

alien

1 of 2 adjective
ˈā-lē-ən How to pronounce alien (audio)
ˈāl-yən
1
: relating or belonging to another country : foreign
alien residents
2
3
: wholly different in nature or character
opinions alien to his outlook
4
: belonging or relating to another person, place, or thing : strange
5
: coming from another world : extraterrestrial

alien

2 of 2 noun
1
: a resident who was born elsewhere and is not a citizen of the country in which he or she now lives
2
: a being that comes from or lives in another world : extraterrestrial
3
: exotic

Legal Definition

alien

1 of 3 adjective
: relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government

alien

2 of 3 noun
: a foreign-born resident who has not been naturalized and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country
illegal aliens
an alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residenceU.S. Code

alien

3 of 3 transitive verb
Etymology

Adjective

Latin alienus not one's own, foreign

More from Merriam-Webster on alien

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