for·​eign | \ ˈfȯr-ən How to pronounce foreign (audio) , ˈfär-\

Definition of foreign

1 : situated outside a place or country especially : situated outside one's own country foreign cities
2 : born in, belonging to, or characteristic of some place or country other than the one under consideration has a large foreign population foreign languages
3 : of, relating to, or proceeding from some other person or material thing than the one under consideration foreign aid
4 : alien in character : not connected or pertinent this design is not foreign from some people's thoughts— Jonathan Swift
5 : related to or dealing with other nations foreign trade
6a : occurring in an abnormal situation in the living body and often introduced from outside a foreign body lodged in the esophagus
b : not recognized by the immune system as part of the self foreign proteins
7 : not being within the jurisdiction of a political unit (such as a state) foreign corporations

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from foreign

foreignness \ ˈfȯr-​ən-​nəs How to pronounce foreignness (audio) , ˈfär-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for foreign


alien, nonnative


domestic, native

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for foreign

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 foreign in a Sentence

They've visited several foreign countries. We don't get many foreign visitors. Have you studied any foreign languages? She has a foreign accent. the ministry of foreign affairs
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

That means the dollar is persistently strong, raising prices of U.S. products and putting American companies at a disadvantage in foreign markets. Hope Yen And Calvin Woodward,, "Fact check: Trump's statements on Iran, trade and the wall range from a little off to flatly false," 15 June 2019 Sources told the news outlet that the identities of the foreign investors are not known, but that some of the funds came from Saudi Arabia. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made up to $135 million while working for free," 15 June 2019 The jacket was sleek, crisp at the seams, and struck me as cosmopolitan given its foreign origin. Aram Mrjoian, Longreads, "Bearing the Weight of My Grandfathers’ Old Clothes," 15 June 2019 Ticket prices for entry at the Mughal monument range from Rs40 ($0.58) for Indian nationals to Rs1,000 for foreign nationals. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "Wind up your Taj Mahal tour in three hours—or pay more," 12 June 2019 That move is expected to trigger many thousands of lawsuits, demanding billions of dollars in compensation from Cuba for properties expropriated after the 1959 revolution, and also to dampen the appetites of foreign investors interested in Cuba. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "Mexico, Cuba, and Trump’s Increasing Preference for Punishment Over Diplomacy," 11 June 2019 The Mexican foreign ministry’s press office declined to comment. Nacha Cattan And Eric Martin / Bloomberg, Time, "Mexico Did Not Agree to Agricultural Deal Touted by President Trump, Officials Say," 9 June 2019 The lawsuit alleges that Olvera used the money to qualify for a foreign investment visa in the U.S., and eventually a provisional green card. Jason Buch,, "Authorities arrest two Mexican businessmen with San Antonio ties," 8 June 2019 As Eli Stokols wrote, even amid the pomp and ceremony, Trump kept his attention focused on his own opponents, domestic and foreign. David Lauter,, "On abortion, Joe Biden decides it’s better to switch than fight," 7 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'foreign.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of foreign

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for foreign

Middle English forein, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin foranus on the outside, from Latin foris outside — more at forum

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about foreign

Statistics for foreign

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for foreign

The first known use of foreign was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for foreign



English Language Learners Definition of foreign

: located outside a particular place or country and especially outside your own country
: coming from or belonging to a different place or country
: relating to or dealing with other nations


for·​eign | \ ˈfȯr-ən How to pronounce foreign (audio) \

Kids Definition of foreign

1 : located outside of a place or country and especially outside of a person's own country a foreign nation
2 : belonging to a place or country other than the one under consideration Do you speak a foreign language?
3 : relating to or having to do with other nations foreign trade
4 : not normally belonging or wanted where found foreign material in food


for·​eign | \ ˈfȯr-ən, ˈfär- How to pronounce foreign (audio) \

Medical Definition of foreign

1 : occurring in an abnormal situation in the living body and often introduced from outside a foreign body lodged in the esophagus
2 : not recognized by the immune system as part of the self foreign proteins

Keep scrolling for more



Legal Definition of foreign

: not being within the jurisdiction of a political unit (as a state) especially : being from or in a state other than the one in which a matter is being considered a foreign company doing business in South Carolina a foreign executor submitting to the jurisdiction of this court a foreign judgment — compare domestic

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on foreign

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with foreign

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for foreign

Spanish Central: Translation of foreign

Nglish: Translation of foreign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foreign for Arabic Speakers

Comments on foreign

What made you want to look up foreign? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!