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From Middle English forest, from Old French forest, from Medieval Latin foresta (open wood), first used in the Capitularies of Charlemagne in reference to the royal forest (as opposed to the inner woods, or parcus). Displaced native Middle English weald, wald (forest, weald), from Old English weald, Middle English scogh, scough (forest, shaw), from Old Norse skógr, and Middle English frith, firth (forest, game preserve), from Old English fyrhþ.

A forest.



forest (plural forests)

  1. A dense collection of trees covering a relatively large area. Larger than woods.
    • 2013 June 29, “Unspontaneous combustion”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 29: 
      Since the mid-1980s, when Indonesia first began to clear its bountiful forests on an industrial scale in favour of lucrative palm-oil plantations, “haze” has become an almost annual occurrence in South-East Asia. The cheapest way to clear logged woodland is to burn it, producing an acrid cloud of foul white smoke that, carried by the wind, can cover hundreds, or even thousands, of square miles.
  2. Any dense collection or amount.
    forest of criticism.
  3. (historical) A defined area of land set aside in England as royal hunting ground or for other privileged use; all such areas.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, Internal Combustion[1]:
      Throughout the 1500s, the populace roiled over a constellation of grievances of which the forest emerged as a key focal point. The popular late Middle Ages fictional character Robin Hood, dressed in green to symbolize the forest, dodged fines for forest offenses and stole from the rich to give to the poor. But his appeal was painfully real and embodied the struggle over wood.
  4. (graph theory) A disjoint union of trees.


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forest (third-person singular simple present forests, present participle foresting, simple past and past participle forested)

  1. (transitive) To cover an area with trees.


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Middle French[edit]


forest f (plural forests)

  1. forest
    • 1544, L’Arcadie-Trad-Massin, Paris:
      Mais quand il eut mis fin a ses parolles, & que semblablement les forestz resonnãtes se furent appaisées []
      But when he had finished talking, and the forests felt appeased []

Old French[edit]


forest f (oblique plural forez or foretz, nominative singular forest, nominative plural forez or foretz)

  1. forest, royal hunting ground