Synonyms & Antonyms of foreign

1 being, relating to, or characteristic of a country other than one's own
  • more Americans should take an interest in foreign languages

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2 not being a vital part of or belonging to something
  • pediatricians often have to remove peas or other foreign bodies from inside the ears of curious toddlers

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Antonyms for foreign

3 relating to or involving two or more nations
  • foreign trade has always been vital to the region's economic health

Synonyms for foreign

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Frequently Asked Questions About foreign

How is the word foreign different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of foreign are alien, extraneous, and extrinsic. While all these words mean "external to a thing, its essential nature, or its original character," 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

How do alien and foreign relate to one another?

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

a practice totally alien to her nature

When is extraneous a more appropriate choice than foreign?

The words extraneous and foreign are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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

When might extrinsic be a better fit than foreign?

In some situations, the words extrinsic and foreign are roughly equivalent. However, 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

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Time Traveler for foreign

Time Traveler

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

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Thesaurus Entries Near foreign



foreign aid

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Cite this Entry

“Foreign.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on foreign

Nglish: Translation of foreign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foreign for Arabic Speakers


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