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

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Other Words from foreign

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for foreign



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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 Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, is considering legislation that would allow Russia to nationalize the assets of foreign companies that have exited from the country in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Nick Kostov, WSJ, 16 May 2022 Lockdowns have left millions unable to work, and foreign companies are becoming less willing to continue investing in the country. New York Times, 11 May 2022 The public is growing increasingly frustrated with strict quarantine measures, and some foreign companies are reconsidering their operations in the country. Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2022 Most Western automotive giants are among the hundreds of foreign companies that have pulled out of Russia since February, shredding their warranties in the process. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 May 2022 The government argues those changes tried to fix past abuses and excessive advantages for foreign companies, for example, being exempt from certain payments. MarÍa Verza, ajc, 20 Apr. 2022 There was Trump’s obvious, odious links to those pushing foreign interference operations, breathing new life into things like the moribund Foreign Agents Registration Act. Casey Michel, The New Republic, 20 Apr. 2022 American investors stand to lose if a mass delisting comes to fruition, since U.S. and global investors are the ones who hold Chinese American depositary receipts, a type of security that allows U.S. investors to buy stakes in foreign companies. Yvonne Lau, Fortune, 16 Apr. 2022 In northern Mexico along the Texas border, for example, foreign companies invested billions of dollars in wind farms. Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2022 See More

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

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Foreign.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for foreign


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



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

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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