Two words still in use combined to form this originally xenophobic term. Like the Ancient Greeks, who considered all non-Greeks “barbarians,” the Early Modern Brits thought of all outsiders as enemies and referred to other kingdoms as places where the “foe reigns”. [Pronunciation of the first syllable has changed gradually from “foe” to “for”].
The earliest recorded use of the term appears in Gilliam Tremblestaff’s tragedy Spamlet:
“As long as Philip wears the crown in Spain,
That land I’ll loathe and always call ‘foe-reign'”.