Definition of alien in US English:



  • 1Belonging to a foreign country or nation.

    • ‘Hitler had ordained the Final Solution for lesser races and alien faiths.’
    • ‘You have Americans, working in an alien culture, travelling with armed men and using translators.’
    • ‘How is it that we are dominated by an alien culture and religion, and even alter our laws to accommodate the practices of others?’
    • ‘The presentation brought alive the history, art and music of Russia, stimulating interest in alien culture.’
    • ‘Would it matter if they were from poverty-stricken foreign lands, steeped in other religions and alien cultures?’
    • ‘Reformation and reconstruction of an alien culture are a daunting task.’
    • ‘These ‘vagabonds and outcasts’ came with an alien culture and a tendency to upheaval.’
    • ‘So it's not just the children of today who are being wooed and won by alien thinking and cultures, but many of our adults are hopelessly lost.’
    • ‘This is to familiarise the hosts with the latest fads in styling and lifestyles and an alien culture.’
    • ‘Despite numerous campaigns among players and fans to try and tackle racism, the game is still submerged in a sea of stereotypes about foreigners and alien cultures.’
    • ‘This is blundering on foreign soil in an alien culture which they fail to grasp and arrogantly underestimate and they will ultimately pay the price of their ignorance.’
    • ‘On her first visit to India, Justina's creative mind soon got down to depicting her perceptions of a new land and an alien culture.’
    • ‘Despite the alien culture, I felt remarkably at home in Nepal, and as I flew over the Himalayas it was with sadness that I glimpsed their silent magnitude for the last time.’
    • ‘It's such an alien culture to our own in so many ways that I find it incredibly fascinating.’
    • ‘A Catholic in a Protestant land, many regarded her as a foreign queen with an alien religion.’
    • ‘The moment one of the partners is expected to give up their beliefs and to fit in with an alien culture against their will, we no longer have a healthy marriage.’
    • ‘But if anyone in Selby is genuinely concerned about being overwhelmed by alien cultures no one was saying so yesterday.’
    • ‘What is this alien culture that threatens to infect Anglo-Americans?’
    • ‘As cultists, this group also think their god wants them garbed in the clobber of another age and an alien culture.’
    • ‘For right-wing politicians, this commodification is associated with an invasive, alien, foreign culture.’
    • ‘It's easy to see why as it covers familiar territory of a disillusioned white man seeking redemption in his respect and defence of an alien culture.’
    foreign, overseas, non-native, external, distant, remote
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Unfamiliar and disturbing or distasteful.
      ‘bossing anyone around was alien to him’
      ‘they found the world of adult education a little alien’
      • ‘Their hopes, wishes, fears, and aspirations were not ours; their beliefs, tastes, and customs were alien to us.’
      • ‘Everything in it that she had once seen every day now seemed so foreign and alien, like none of these things had ever belonged to her.’
      • ‘To be fair to O'Driscoll, this role was alien to him and the other team's central defenders were big and strong and took no prisoners.’
      • ‘The article about our town in the tabloid on Sunday week last was negativity through and through, depicting a picture of Dungarvan that certainly is alien to me.’
      • ‘It really is the case that language is a foreign substance whose alien presence in our soul is both necessary and troubling.’
      • ‘In fact, the whole act of writing anything at all feels rather strange and alien to me now.’
      • ‘He insists more than his teacher that we recognize the physical presence of elements that are alien to canvas, yet takes extra care to make that presence ambiguous.’
      • ‘Tarkovsky's spirituality is profoundly alien to the west's dualism: it is earthly, earthy, as cool and clear and material as the water his camera spends so long dwelling upon.’
      • ‘And the weather, so unpredictable in Melbourne at this time of the year, was cool, cloudy and therefore even more alien to the Englishman's style.’
      • ‘They converse in strange tongues, using words and expressions that are totally alien to me.’
      • ‘The ones I saw were being guarded, not by Americans, but by brown-skinned soldiers, men of their own size and race, incongruous in alien boots and uniforms.’
      • ‘It reminds me that nothing human is alien to the Church.’
      • ‘For example, much of what the filmmaker does is unknown or alien to the audience.’
      • ‘By forming this non-political movement, the members would not be made strange or alien to power.’
      • ‘The geography was utterly alien to Patrick, although his unfamiliarity with the picture could have been attributed to the gaps.’
      • ‘The case was referred to higher authority for instructions, since it was so rare and so unusual and so incomprehensible and in a word, so alien to the Chinese mindset.’
      • ‘Perhaps it might seem alien to someone unfamiliar with comics.’
      • ‘These experiences are turned into snapshots of worlds that are normally utterly alien to the West, yet become entirely understandable with Kapuscinski as guide.’
      • ‘Drug taking is alien to most of us in society, and the photograph did show the stereotypical ‘drug taking’ scene; but is drug taking really so alien to the streets of York?’
      • ‘Does this just feel entirely and completely alien to you?’
      unfamiliar, unknown, unheard of, foreign
      incompatible with, unusual for, opposed to, conflicting with, contrary to, adverse to, in conflict with, at variance with, antagonistic to
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2attributive Relating to or denoting beings supposedly from other worlds; extraterrestrial.
      ‘an alien spacecraft’
      • ‘He claimed the thing was some type of alien spacecraft.’
      • ‘Either the eyewitness saw an alien spacecraft or he's a liar.’
      • ‘Carr is a hero in the UFO literature, but his stories of flying saucers and alien creatures were all delusions.’
      • ‘Imagine that an alien race, one that has never had contact with the human race, discovers the following items.’
      • ‘The urge to laugh is almost overwhelming as the enticing conspiracy theory degenerates into ranting about reptiles and an alien race plotting to take over the world.’
      • ‘One third accepted lucky numbers and 30 percent felt that some UFOs were alien spacecraft.’
      • ‘How does any of us as a human being know how an alien race would think?’
      • ‘In other episodes, characters are inhabited by alien consciousnesses, or surgically altered so that they resemble other, alien races.’
      • ‘The energy signature belonged to an alien probe that had detected the warp emissions from the warp drive tests.’
      • ‘As stated above, he claims that there is a tunnel on the Moon through which alien spacecraft can pass.’
      • ‘Years ago I used to drink with a chap, sensible in most respects, who was unwaveringly certain of the existence of advanced alien races.’
      • ‘Darryl said he wouldn't be surprised if they also found an alien spacecraft in that cave.’
      • ‘Darryl is convinced that one day they will unearth the alien mothership completely intact.’
      • ‘Some believe that the crop designs are messages from alien spacecraft.’
      • ‘The first public announcements from our new alien overlords were supposed to have already occurred.’
      • ‘King's program didn't merely advance the notion that an alien spacecraft crashed at Roswell in 1947.’
      • ‘The inner workings of alien spacecraft are at last revealed!’
      • ‘The fact is, there is no consistent relationship between education and belief that UFOs are alien aircraft.’
      • ‘The thought of first contact with an alien race only through their artifacts is one that is close to the heart of science fiction.’
      • ‘General Arthur Exon plus many others suggest this is most likely the crash site of an alien space craft.’
      extraterrestrial, other-worldly, unearthly
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 (of a plant or animal species) introduced from another country and later naturalized.
      • ‘The invasion of alien tree species has seriously impacted many natural forest ecosystems around the world.’
      • ‘It is well known that the introductions of alien species have wreaked havoc on indigenous fauna and flora worldwide.’
      • ‘The controversy over trout introductions has come to focus much of the current awareness on the impact of alien species both plant and animal.’
      • ‘In this context the issue of alien plant and animal species becomes problematic.’
      • ‘He urged gardeners to avoid the use of exotic plants and not to plant alien flowers out in the wild or along hedgerows.’
      foreign, non-native, tropical
      View synonyms


  • 1A foreigner, especially one who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where they are living.

    ‘an illegal alien’
    • ‘It was a way of reaffirming that they are aliens, not citizens.’
    • ‘The concession should not be extended to SADC citizens as this would open a loophole for illegal aliens.’
    • ‘One assumes it's a sincere position against illegal aliens and illegal immigration.’
    • ‘That would mean any non-U.S. citizen, even an illegal alien, would be allowed to vote if that person has a child in the public school system.’
    • ‘It would also make it harder for illegal aliens to seek political asylum.’
    • ‘The Parliament cannot directly impose punishment on anyone, on aliens or on citizens.’
    • ‘The Scots and the Irish living in Gaelic parts were aliens, and frequently enemies to the crown.’
    • ‘From an economic and legal standpoint illegal aliens have to be stopped.’
    • ‘So is the Court right or has it been right in drawing a distinction between aliens and citizens?’
    • ‘The prohibition is clear and unambiguous, and admits of no distinction between treatment of aliens and citizens.’
    • ‘When people crossed their threshold they felt like aliens or foreigners.’
    • ‘In almost all cases, U.S. law precluded Japanese aliens from becoming U.S. citizens.’
    • ‘If she hadn't become a citizen then she would have turned into an enemy alien when the United States joined the war.’
    • ‘He was already targeting citizens, not only aliens, from the very beginning of his career.’
    • ‘One must assume that a significant portion of these are illegal aliens.’
    • ‘I'll be talking with a leading senator who has a plan to legalize millions of illegal aliens in this country.’
    • ‘And so we have another example of the general disregard for laws pertaining to illegal aliens.’
    • ‘If one cannot identify an actual immigrant from an illegal alien, the record review has to be problematic.’
    • ‘There is more grumbling among Americans that illegal aliens should be deported and the borders fully closed.’
    • ‘Because he's actually not a citizen, but an illegal alien, Valle is now detained in preparation for deportation.’
    foreigner, foreign national, non-native, immigrant, emigrant, émigré, incomer, newcomer, visitor, outsider, stranger
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A hypothetical or fictional being from another world.
      • ‘How will we explain this to the aliens when they land their spaceship here?’
      • ‘I'm a feminist science fiction critic who is married to an alien.’
      • ‘When it is dug up it emits the piercing scream, signalling its discovery to the aliens.’
      • ‘The little alien waddled past Eric and down the alley.’
      • ‘In the child's imagination, fuelled by science-fiction, the aliens are about to land.’
      • ‘Do you have memories of being abducted by aliens and whisked away in a spaceship?’
      • ‘Under no circumstances make spaceships, dinosaurs, aliens, monsters or fantasy art characters.’
      • ‘Reading that he thinks aliens in spaceships brought the DNA that humans came from to earth was enough.’
      • ‘The little alien was wrapping itself around him tighter and tighter.’
      • ‘Go there and see an awe-inspiring picture of one of the original aliens in its spaceship.’
      • ‘The kittens are kicking and rolling inside her tummy, they feel like little aliens trying to get out.’
      • ‘The best corollary I can find to myself is a fictional television alien!’
      • ‘A lot of people believe they've been abducted by aliens in space ships and taken away and then brought back.’
      • ‘When the flying saucer craze began in 1947, aliens were described as little green men.’
      • ‘Their confrontation is disrupted by the arrival of a spaceship filled with various aliens.’
      • ‘The novel follows the journey of a small group of people who leave our solar system to make contact with these newly discovered aliens.’
      • ‘Giving the credit to aliens is selling your species short.’
      • ‘I shiver as I pass the clothes boutiques, where assorted mannequins stare out like different species of plastic aliens.’
      • ‘On an interstellar penal colony, a group of criminal aliens steal a spaceship and chart a course for Earth.’
      • ‘Near that town in New Mexico a spaceship of aliens crashed in 1947, some people say.’
      extraterrestrial, et
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A plant or animal species originally introduced from another country and later naturalized.
      • ‘Invasive aliens, mainly weeping willows, which are the dominant species at the dam, were eradicated.’
      • ‘These aliens created too much shade for prairie plants that need full sunlight to survive.’
      • ‘Ordinarily, scientists gauge environmental impacts by comparing before-and-after data on species in a region invaded by an alien.’
      • ‘They caution that the impact of these aliens on other marine life has yet to be established.’
      • ‘I am very much aware of the threat posed by invasive aliens, of all kinds, to our indigenous fauna and flora.’
      • ‘What makes them aliens is that they have been introduced into sea areas where they would not normally live.’


Middle English: via Old French from Latin alienus ‘belonging to another’, from alius ‘other’.