In my studies I came across "concept" & "conceptually related". I want to find out the meaning of "concept" and its use.

Cambridge Dictionary shows this example: The whole concept of democracy, she claimed, was utterly foreign to the present government.

Now, I am asking for an equivalent to "foreign" to express that this concept was utterly strange, or unknown to them. Is there a common British used equivalent to "foreign" ?

1 Answer 1


Here is the word from LDOCE 5th edition:

concept - an idea of how something is, or how something should be done

As for the usage of foreign in this collocation, there's only one way to substitute it for something else, and that is alien:

an alien concept - an idea that is very strange or that does not exist

In many countries, queuing for a bus is an alien concept.

However, these two words are not always interchangeable, so be careful when you want to use either of them.

  • I am searching an expression more "polite and formal". Perhaps "unknown" would be the best choice.....
    – FrankMK
    Mar 31, 2018 at 8:56
  • @FrankMK, I use "alien concept" regularly when writing about my travel experiences, and it would be perfectly acceptable in a formal context. What makes you think that it may not be polite or formal?
    – JavaLatte
    Mar 31, 2018 at 13:17
  • On all my recent studies, including a lot of business exam books including polite and formal business Englich - also supported by academic material, exercises and definitions, I didn' came across the expression "alien". What about "unknown" as it is used quite often in an academic context ?
    – FrankMK
    Mar 31, 2018 at 13:58
  • books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – FrankMK
    Mar 31, 2018 at 14:00

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