Posted by: Jack Henry | July 26, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Migrants, Emigrants, and Immigrants

You’ve probably heard the word immigrant almost daily since last year’s presidential election. I’m not getting into politics, but I thought it might be interesting to look at the word immigrant, and two related words: emigrant and migrant.

Let’s start with some definitions and etymologies, from the Online Etymology Dictionary.

migrant: “one who migrates”

1670s, from Latin migrantem (nominative migrans), present participle of migrare "to remove, depart, to move from one place to another"

emigrant: "one who quits a country or region to settle in another,"
1754, from Latin emigrantem (nominative emigrans), present participle of emigrare "move away" (see emigration).

immigrant: "one who immigrates," 1792, American English, perhaps based on French immigrant, from Latin immigrantem (nominative immigrans), present participle of immigrare "to remove, go into, move in" (see immigrate). Emigrant is older. First used in English in Jeremy Belknap’s history of New Hampshire, and he generally is credited with having coined it.

And, from Daily Writing Tips, I found this interesting description about the emigrant/immigrant perspective:

The distinction between the nearly identical-sounding first two terms is that emigrant describes a person from the perspective of coming from somewhere else, and immigrant refers to someone in the context of arrival at his or her destination. Simply said, emigrants come from somewhere, and immigrants go to somewhere.

Kara Church

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