for·​eign | \ˈfȯr-ən, 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

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Other Words from foreign

foreignness \ ˈfȯr-​ən-​nəs , ˈfär-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for foreign


alien, nonnative


domestic, native

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Plus, there's the perk that foreign workers don’t sue you for overtime pay. Fabiola Santiago, miamiherald, "'America First?' Not when it comes to hiring foreign workers for Trump's Mar-a-Lago," 10 July 2018 Earlier this week, the club applied to hire 40 foreign workers to serve as waiters and waitresses. Karla Peterson,, "President Trump's #MeToo actions are worse than his words," 6 July 2018 Other advisers, notably Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, urged a less aggressive approach, and backed beefing up existing laws that permit the government to review and potential reject foreign investments over national security concerns. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "President Donald Trump to back off investment limits on China, will use existing tools," 27 June 2018 For crab businesses, obtaining the H2-B visas that are required to bring temporary foreign workers has long been a complicated process. Scott Dance,, "After July Fourth crab feasts, an uncertain season for Maryland seafood industry," 6 July 2018 Despite his rhetoric that immigration hurts American workers, President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club is seeking to hire 61 foreign workers for the 2018 winter season, according to the Labor Department. Fox News, "Trump's Mar-a-Lago seeks to hire 61 foreign workers," 6 July 2018 The limits on Kushner's intelligence access could complicate his ability to manage a portfolio that includes meeting with foreign leaders on Trump's behalf and crafting a Middle East peace plan. Carol D. Leonnig, Anchorage Daily News, "Limits still remain on security clearance for Trump son-in-law Kushner," 13 July 2018 Shark recalls a fear of playing a foreign country without the proper resources. Billboard, "The Down Underdogs: Australian Alternative Artists on Making it Big in America and at Home," 13 July 2018 Trump imposed the trade barriers in the name of national security, infuriating foreign leaders and prompting bipartisan outrage in Congress. Michael Collins, USA TODAY, "Senators blast Trump's 'reckless' tariffs, warn of impact on farmers, businesses," 12 July 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for foreign

Last Updated

5 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for foreign

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

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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 \

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- \

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

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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

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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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