General English


  • noun an area of land greater than 0.5 ha, 10 per cent of which is occupied by trees
  • verb to manage a forest, by cutting wood as necessary, and planting new trees



  • noun a very large area of woodland

Origin & History of “forest”

The underlying sense of forest appears to be ‘outside wooded area’. It comes from the late Latin phrase forestis silva (Latin silva means ‘wood’), which was applied to the royal forests of Charlemagne. The adjective forestis (which became the Old French noun forest) was probably a derivative of Latin forīs ‘outdoor, outside’, which, like forās (source of English foreign), was related to Latin forēs ‘door’. In this context, ‘outside’ presumably meant ‘beyond the main or central fenced area of woodland’.