These two verbs have similar meanings, but they differ in point of view.
Emigrate means to leave one country to settle in another. Immigrate means to settle in a country where one isn't a native. Emigrate stresses leaving; immigrate stresses arriving.
For example, from the point of view of the British, you emigrate when you leave England to settle in Canada. From the point of view of the Canadians, you have immigrated to Canada and are considered an immigrant. Emigrate describes the move relative to the place of departure. Immigrate describes it relative to the place of arrival.
- The film Amreeka tells the story of a Palestinian mother and son who emigrate from the West Bank to Illinois.
- The modern American Christmas tree originated with German Lutherans and spread to Pennsylvania after they began to immigrate here in the 18th century.
Practice Understanding the Difference
(a) When my grandparents decided to _____ to the U.S., there was no one waiting for them here.
(b) At the end of the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, thousands of people were compelled to _____ from Asia Minor to Greece.
(a) When my grandparents decided to immigrate to the U.S., there was no one waiting for them here.
(b) At the end of the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, thousands of people were compelled to emigrate from Asia Minor to Greece.