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My girlfriend is creating a podcast about people who moved from one country to another for one reason or another and wants to name it 'Foreigner'.

I'm thinking this may have a negative connotation so it's not appropriate and may be misconstrued to someone just glancing over names.

Is 'foreigner' still used without a negative connotation?

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  • Does she identify as a "foreigner"?
    – James K
    Aug 1, 2021 at 1:14
  • It's probably better than "Immigrant". Aug 1, 2021 at 1:23
  • I don't think that foreigner is negative -- it's just a description of someone foreign to a place and culture. Aug 1, 2021 at 22:58

3 Answers 3

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Foreigner is still used regularly without negative connotations. Foreigner is unfortunately also used with negative connotations. It all comes down to context and usage.

Some of that context is who you are as a speaker. If you are a xenophobic sort of person, or come from a xenophobic background or area, or if you fit the stereotype of a xenophobic person, the word foreigner is more likely to be heard with a negative connotation. Otherwise, it is less likely.

Of course, regardless of who you are, if you use the word foreigner in a negative way, the word itself will feel more negative. If you are a native inhabitant of the land you live in, and you are talking about people from other countries, you should be careful about how you use the word. I'm not saying it will always be negative in this context— in fact, it usually won't! Just be careful, as it's possible to use it negatively this way.

In the context you suggested, speaking as a person who moved from one country to another, the word "foreigner" absolutely does not have a negative context. It does have a connotation of loneliness, a connotation of feeling isolated and disconnected from the people around you, but I think these connotations fit the subject of the podcast you described quite well.

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  • I agree with most of this answer, but describing an immigrant specifically as a foreigner is likely to have a negative connotation. Using it for someone who doesn't live in a country is less likely to have a negative connotation.
    – Ryan M
    Sep 3, 2021 at 4:09
  • You are correct. That said, you can live in a country that is not your home country, even for many years, without being an immigrant. I’m doing so right now— 7 years abroad, but without a permanent visa. I was assuming this was the case here as well. Perhaps that was a bad assumption. Sep 3, 2021 at 13:38
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"Foreigner" or maybe "Foreigners" both sound fine to me.

I'm not really sure that they carry an overly negative connotation. You could say "Foreign People" or "Foreign Person" but those sound more formal, and maybe inappropriate for a title.

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  • If used as a blanket term for residents of overseas origin, it can be used to imply that they are unwelcome. Aug 1, 2021 at 7:52
  • I suppose. I find "immigrants" more negative to be honest.
    – Riolku
    Aug 1, 2021 at 18:07
  • Foreigner is as good a word as any to describe people from outside a culture/nation that live in that culture/nation. Immigrant implies that they live there; a foreigner could be someone who is merely visiting or staying for a short time. Aug 1, 2021 at 23:01
  • Yeah the question is more about the connotations of the words not the definition. Immigrant and foreigner don't have the same meanings, obviously, but they have different connotations, for better or for worse.
    – Riolku
    Aug 1, 2021 at 23:07
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Not negative, but it has problems when used to describe people who don't think of themselves as "foreign".

For example, if I've moved to the UK from France. I speak English. I drink tea in the afternoon, and listen to test match special on R4, then I might not like being called "a foreigner".

On the other hand I may feel that English culture is different and strange. I may feel different to other people who were born in the UK. In that case I might feel that I am an foreigner.

So people should be careful about describing other people as foreigners. But as a podcast name, it shouldn't cause offence, especially if it is about her personal experiences as a migrant.

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