Amok Mama: What does "expat" actually mean?



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See what applies to you... have your pick. It's fairly easy really:

- a person who lives outside their native country, a person who settles oneself abroad,
ORIGIN mid 18th cent. (as a verb): from medieval Latin expatriat- ‘gone out from one's country,’ from the verb expatriare, from ex- ‘out’ + patria ‘native country.’

- a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from Latin immigrant- ‘immigrating,’ from the verb immigrare, on the pattern of emigrant.

-an animal or person that migrates, tends to migrate or having migrated.

to migrate
- typically a bird or fish) move from one region or habitat to another (animal).
- move from one area or country to settle in another, esp. in search of work (person) .
- move from one specific part of something to another (med).
- change or cause to change from using one system to another (computing).
- transfer (programs or hardware) from one system to another (computing).
ORIGIN early 17th cent. (in the general sense [move from one place to another] ): from Latin migrat- ‘moved, shifted,’ from the verb migrare.

- a person born in or coming from a country other than one's own, a person not belonging to a particular place or group; a stranger or outsider.

- a person who has left their own country in order to settle in another, usually for political reasons.
ORIGIN late 18th cent. (originally denoting a person escaping the French Revolution): French, past participle of émigrer ‘emigrate

Tallulah more than 3 years ago

Expat vs. Ausländer

Though what the previous commenter said, that "expat" stands for "expatriate", is true and that it officially means someone residing in a country or culture other than the one they were brought up in, I think there needs to be a bit of a distinction.

While it's true that there are many "expats", especially in Berlin, who like to fancy themselves modern day Hemingways - anguishedly writing/doing art by day and drinking themselves to oblivion by night, the main difference (in my opinion) between an expat and an Ausländer is that the expat seems to be a bit more fluid in their living styles, not integrating to the culture as well as an Ausländer might.

I would imagine an expat coming to Berlin for the party and art scene, not speaking the best German, interacting with mostly other expats and sort of riding out their time until their (or their parents') money runs dry... at which point it's time to pack up and head home.

An Ausländer on the other hand seems to have a more permanent life in the foreign country. Perhaps they have an established job, mostly native friends, speak the language almost fluently and/or are married to someone from their host country; these people don't have plans to go back to their home country for a long long time, if ever.

In short, it's a difference in mentalities. Expats view their time abroad as an intermission from life, while Ausländers know their time abroad is their life.

Miss S more than 3 years ago

Expatriate not Ex-patriot

Expat is a subset of Auslander. It just means you've been posted abroad on work; your company has relocated you on a handsome salary and set of perks.

You find plenty of Indian expats in the far-East for example. Nothing to do with being/looking white.

Shravan more than 3 years ago


I thought ex-pat meant "ex-patriate" meaning "ex-American" like Langston Hughes and Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway in Paris in the 20s... But you're right, now its indiscriminately applied to foreigners from certain countries and not from others, usually having to do with whiteness. (Thought I still think if you're from NY your an ex-pat no matter what race you are...)

T more than 3 years ago

The stupid boxes

I finally got divorced last year. After 5 years of waiting. I was so happy that I was then legally able to tick the 'single box' and not have a dragon woman in the 'rathaus' look at me funny when I tick 'married' and my girlfriend ticks 'single' on a form that is something to do with one of our kids. I was soooo happy. But then I had to fill out a form and noticed that an extra box had been put up 'divorced' I was gutted!!! I hate the stupid boxes! why does someone need to know if I was, a long time ago, in a past life, married?

Bob more than 3 years ago

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