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Forest as a boy's name is pronounced FOR-est. It is of Old French origin, and the meaning of Forest is "woodsman; woods". Occupational name and place name. Saint John Forest (16th century) was one of the numerous English priests who were martyred during the conflicts between King Henry VIII and the Pope. The character Forrest in Winston Groom's novel and the popular film "Forrest Gump" is named for hard-charging Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest (and early member of the Ku Klux Klan). Novelist E.M. Forster; actor/director Forrest Whittaker.