AskDefine | Define foray

Dictionary Definition



1 a sudden short attack [syn: raid, maraud]
2 an initial attempt (especially outside your usual areas of competence); "scientists' forays into politics"


1 steal goods; take as spoils; "During the earthquake people looted the stores that were deserted by their owners" [syn: plunder, despoil, loot, reave, strip, rifle, ransack, pillage]
2 briefly enter enemy territory

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a UK
    • /ˈfɒ.ɹeɪ/
    • /"fQ.reI/
    • Rhymes with: -ɹeɪ/
  • a US
    • /ˈfɔːɹ.eɪ/
    • /"fO:r.eI/


  1. A sudden or irregular incursion in border warfare; hence, any irregular incursion for war or spoils; a raid.
  2. A brief excursion or attempt especially outside one's accustomed sphere.


  1. To pillage; to ravage.

Extensive Definition

A foray (lang-pl zajazd) was a traditional method of law enforcement in Poland. In view of the weakness of the executive in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, it was effectively used by members of the szlachta to defend their rights.
In legal practice, zajazd was sanctioned by starosta official, and was the fourth step in the execution of a legal ruling. After the guilty party refused to abandon the disputed property, starost would call his supporters as well as opponents of the guilty party (therefore creating a temporary force of militia) and attmept remove the guilty party from his manor.
Since the mid-17th century increasingly zajazds were done without a legal sanction simply when a member of szlachta would gather his supporters and raid an estate of his opponent.
They would become a common occurrence during the period of noble's anarchy in the Commonwealth.
In literature, zajazds were most famously portrayed in Adam Mickiewicz's Pan Tadeusz, as well as in The Trilogy (With Fire and Sword, The Deluge, Fire in the Steppe) of Henryk Sienkiewicz.
foray in Polish: Zajazd (zwyczaj)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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