Emigrate vs. Immigrate: What Is the Difference?

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When it comes to grammar, there are many words whose meanings are too similar. These words can confuse you quickly, especially if the spelling and pronunciation are almost identical. In this article, we will evaluate the differences between the two words: emigrate and immigrate.

Emigrate vs. Immigrate: What is the Difference?

“Emigrate” and “immigrate” are two common English verbs that may make you overthink. However, if you want to avoid grammar mistakes or errors, read on to learn the difference.

What does the word “emigrate” mean?

“To emigrate” is the act of leaving your current location (native country), to live in another. The word emigrate has a Latin origin, emigrare, which translates to moving away or departing. The verb is used when one leaves their region of birth or citizenship, emphasizing on exiting more than entry to the new country.

For example:

  1. The horrendous war forced numerous families to emigrate from their native lands to new regions.
  2. Famous actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, emigrated from Austria to America to follow his dreams.

What does the word “immigrate” mean?

Immigrate means coming into a new region or country as an alien or foreigner. It is the act of moving into a country, thus changing your residency. The verb originates from a Latin word, imigrare, which translates to “move in.” You use the word immigrate when you need to stress the act of entering the new country or habitat rather than leaving the old one.

For example:

  1. My neighbor, a current U.S. citizen, immigrated to the United States as a ten-year-old refugee.
  2. Unfortunately, some families immigrate to new countries illegitimately because of the dangers they face in their native countries.

Tips to Remember Emigrate vs. Immigrate

Is there a simple hack to remember the difference between the verbs? Of course! English is a fun language, and with this trick, you will never ponder on when to use “immigrate” or “emigrate.” First off, always acknowledge that the two are antonyms. One meaning “to leave,” while the other says “moving in.”

Next, note the prefix in each of the verbs. Prefixes e- and ex- are used to imply “from” or “out of” such as in the word “exit.” On the other hand, im- or in- are prefixes used to mean “into.” When you apply this trick, the word emigrate means from/out of and immigrate means “into.”

In summary:

Emigrate – leave one’s native country to take residence in another.

Immigrate – moving into a new country to live there.

What About Emigration vs. Immigration?

The same holds true for the words emigration and immigration. According to Dictionary.com, immigration is “the act of immigrating, or the act of moving to another country.” Emigration, on the other hand, is “an act or instance of emigrating” or leaving a country.

Similarly, an immigrant is someone who moved to a new country and an emigrant is someone who left a country.


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