foreign

adjective

for·​eign ˈfȯr-ən How to pronounce foreign (audio)
ˈfär-
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 thoughtsJonathan Swift
5
: related to or dealing with other nations
foreign trade
6
a
: 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
foreignness noun
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
Recent Examples on the Web There have been periodic violent attacks on foreign African nationals. Kate Bartlett, NPR, 24 May 2024 The real test, according to both domestic and foreign analysts and officials, will be whether Milei can advance long-term structural reforms while minimizing the social disruptions and backlash that have sunk previous attempts. Vera Bergengruen/buenos Aires, TIME, 23 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for foreign 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'foreign.' 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

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near foreign

Cite this Entry

“Foreign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/foreign. Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

foreign

adjective
for·​eign ˈfȯr-ən How to pronounce foreign (audio)
ˈfär-
1
: located outside a place or country and especially outside one's own country
foreign nations
2
: born in, belonging to, or characteristic of a place or country other than the one under consideration
foreign language
foreign customs
3
: related to or dealing with other nations
foreign affairs
foreign office
4
: not normally found in an area or part
a foreign body in the eye
foreignness noun

Medical Definition

foreign

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

Legal Definition

foreign

adjective
for·​eign
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on foreign

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