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‘Emigrate’ vs ‘Immigrate’: What’s the Difference?

Shaun Connell
September 6, 2023

Are you wondering about the difference between 'emigrate' vs. 'immigrate?' I can help!

Here is the quick answer: 

  • 'Emigrate' is a verb that means to leave your country of origin. 
  • 'Immigrate' is a verb that means to settle in a country other than your country of origin. 

The answer above is just a brief overview, but there is much more to learn. So, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between 'Emigrate' vs. 'Immigrate?'

'Emigrate' and 'immigrate' are verbs. They have similar spellings and pronunciations. However, they have different meanings.

  • 'Emigrate' means to leave your home country.
  • While 'immigrate' means to settle or make a country other than your country of origin your home.

When people are leaving their birthplace or the place where they are a citizen to go to a country where they do not have citizenship, they are 'emigrating.'

If someone is making a place other than the country of which they are a citizen, their home, they are immigrating. So, when you are going, you are doing the former, and when you are leaving, you are doing the latter.

These words are also antonyms or opposites of each other.

When to Use 'Emigrate' vs. 'Immigrate'

Knowing the difference between two words is one thing, but knowing when to use them is different. So, here are some tips for using 'emigrate' vs. 'immigrate.'

  • Use 'emigrate' to describe the action of people leaving their country of origin.

For example, you might say something like:

They knew they had to emigrate, but they weren't sure what country they would call home. 

  • Use 'immigrate' to describe someone who is making a country other than their country of origin or the place where they have citizenship.

As an example, you could say:

How weird is it that they immigrated here years ago, but they were finally able to gain citizenship this year?

Definition of 'Emigrate': What Does 'Emigrate' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'emigrate' is a verb that means:

  • To leave one's residence country or the country they are living in to migrate to a different country
  • To leave a country in which you have citizenship to pursue citizenship somewhere else
  • To leave your birthplace or country of residence to settle somewhere else

Synonyms of 'Emigrate'

  • Migrate
  • Move
  • Resettle
  • Depart
  • Bail
  • Relocate
  • Begone
  • Pack up
  • Abscond
  • Defect
  • Vacate
  • Skip
  • Flee

Definition of 'Immigrate': What Does 'Immigrate' Mean?

The same defines the verb 'immigrate' as:

  • To enter into a country from another and become established there

It can also mean:

  • To come into a country that is not your native residence
  • To seek citizenship in a different country
  • To pursue citizenship in a country other than the country you have citizenship in
  • To settle in a country other than your country of origin or birthplace

Synonyms of 'Immigrate'

  • Settle
  • Come
  • Dwell
  • Arrive
  • Stay
  • Lodge
  • Settle

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Emigrate' vs. 'Immigrate'

Whether you want to become a writer or are an experienced writer who wants to improve your grammar skills, you can benefit from learning the pronunciation of words like these.

Knowing how to pronounce terms correctly gives you the confidence to use them in speeches, conversations, and written communications.

So, here is a quick pronunciation guide you can follow for pronouncing 'emigrate' vs. 'immigrate':

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'emigrate':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'immigrate':


Sample Sentences Using 'Emigrate' vs. 'Immigrate'

Now, read these sample sentences to ensure that you know and remember how to use 'emigrate' vs. 'immigrate' in different contexts.


  • When we emigrated from Spain, we had no idea where we would settle. We thought we might end up in the United States, but we ended up making Canada our home.
  • We sold our house and emigrated 15 years ago.
  • It was a challenge to emigrate from her home during her last year of high school.
  • Emigrating is challenging. You have to say goodbye to your home to move somewhere unfamiliar, and you often have to leave friends and family members behind.
  • For people who emigrate from a country with war, oppression, and corruption, leaving their home can be one of the best things they can do for themselves and their families.
  • She had the opportunity to emigrate after she became a freelance writer.


  • My family immigrated here from Italy three generations ago, but we still cook recipes my ancestors brought with them from Campania and Sicily.
  • I just finished an outline for a post I am writing about the recipes my family brought when they immigrated on my personal blog.
  • When my great-grandparents immigrated here, my great-grandfather worked for the railroad and made less than a dollar a day.
  • When you immigrate to the United States, you have to obtain a visa or green card.
  • She self-published an ebook on the experiences she had when she immigrated to the United States.
  • If you immigrate without a green card, you will not be able to work lawfully in the United States.
  • People often refer to the United States as the country of immigrants because most people in the country immigrated here from other areas.


  • It is interesting to see where people emigrated from and what their motivations were for immigrating here.
  • I recently found out that my ancestors emigrated from Scotland when they immigrated to the United States.
  • Did you immigrate to the United States after you emigrated from Scotland?
  • After your family emigrated from Great Britain, did they immigrate here or somewhere else?

Recap of the Difference Between 'Emigrate' vs. 'Immigrate'

We reviewed so much in this post. So, it is a good idea to review what you learned about the difference between 'emigrate' vs. 'immigrate':

  • 'Emigrate' and 'immigrate' are antonyms, so they are opposites of each other.
  • 'Emigate' is a verb that means to leave your country of residence or origin to settle somewhere else.
  • 'Immigrate' is a verb that means to settle in a country other than your country of origin.

So, you 'emigrate' when you are leaving your home country, and you 'immigrate' where you make your new home.

Even after reading this post, it might be challenging to keep words like 'emigrate' and 'immigrate' straight. So, you can always return to this post to look over this lesson.

You can also learn about other frequently misused terms here. Each of our writer guides contains definitions, pronunciations, usage tips, and examples. So, they are an excellent way to improve your grammar and writing skills while expanding your vocabulary.

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell has spent his entire career either working as a freelance writer or hiring freelance writers for his many successful publications. Shaun has learned the exact tricks of the trade to hire the perfect writer for almost any niche.

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