Word Confusion: Emigrate versus Immigrate

Posted May 26, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This is one of those confusions I always have to stop and think about: emigrate is to leave, exit while immigrate is to enter, go in.

What can I say? We all have our blind spots. The trick is to spot them!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Emigrate Immigrate
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Good Heaven What Sorrows Gloom that Parting Day” painting by Thomas Falcon Marshall, 1818–1878, Britain, is in the public domain with details of the artist on Google Art Project, via Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Falcon Marshall’s painting,
“Emigration — the parting day”

“Ellis Island” courtesy of Aude is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Landing at Ellis Island, 1902 emigrants coming up the boardwalk from the barge, which has taken them off the steamship company’s docks, and transported them to Ellis Island. The big building in the background is the new hospital just opened.

Part of Grammar:
Verb, intransitive

Third person present verb: emigrates
Past tense or past participle: emigrated
Gerund or present participle: emigrating

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: immigrates
Past tense or past participle: immigrated
Gerund or present participle: immigrating

Leave one’s own country in order to settle permanently in another Verb, intransitive:
Come to live permanently in a foreign country

To enter a country, intending to remain there

To pass or come into a new habitat or place, as an organism

Verb, transitive:
To introduce as settlers

Rosa’s parents emigrated from Argentina.

My maternal great-great grandparents emigrated from Norway.

Many Mexicans emigrate to the U.S. because they can have a better life.

Verb, intransitive:
The Mennonites immigrated to western Canada in the 1870s/

After the California Gold Rush, contractors immigrated Chinese laborers to work mines, build railroads, and work on farms.

My aunt emigrated from Poland and immigrated to Canada.

Verb, transitive:
They intend to immigrate cheap labor.

After having visited Norway, I know why Scandinavians immigrated into Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Adjective: emigrative, emigratory, unemigrating
Noun: emigrant, emigration
Verb, intransitive: reemigrate, reemigrated, reemigrating
Adjective: immigrational, immigratory, unimmigrating
Noun: immigrant, immigration, immigrator
History of the Word:
Late 18th century from the Latin emigrat-, or emigrated, from the verb emigrare, from e-, a variant of ex- (out of) + migrare (migrate). Early 17th century from the Latin immigrat-, or immigrated, from the verb immigrare, from in- (into) + migrare (migrate).

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Sick Parade at the Depot” by James Boswell and “Homecoming” by Josef Douba; both are in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.