Emigrate vs Immigrate | Difference & Definitions

Commonly Confused Words updated on  April 1, 2024 4 min read

Emigrate means to “leave one’s country of residence to move to another,” whereas immigrate means to “enter a country intending to live there.”

The difference between these two words lies in context and perspective; if the focus is the departure point, use “emigrate.” But if it’s the arrival point, use “immigrate.”

Although the words sound similar, there’s a slight difference in their pronunciation. “Emigrate” is pronounced like “EH-muh-grayt,” where the initial “em” sounds similar to that of “ember.” On the other hand, “immigrate” is pronounced “IH-muh-grayt,” where the initial “im” sounds similar to that of “import.”

Examples: Emigrate in a sentence

Examples: Immigrate in a sentence

My father emigrated from Cuba to the United States.

She plans to immigrate to Amsterdam after obtaining her PhD.

They emigrated from Ireland in the 1990s in search of better opportunities.

We decided to immigrate to Dubai to raise our family.

To escape social and political unrest, many citizens chose to emigrate.

My mother immigrated to the United States from Panama.

Migrate also has a similar meaning and refers to the act of moving from one place to another over a long or short distance, either temporarily or permanently (e.g., “Many birds migrate south during winter”).

Emigrate definition

“Emigrate” is a verb that is defined as “leaving one’s country of origin to live somewhere else.”

When using the word “emigrate,” the focal point of the sentence is the country that one is leaving. As a result, “emigrate” is typically used with “from,” although this preposition is not always required.

Examples: Emigrate in a sentence
When the financial crisis hit, we had no choice but to emigrate.
My family emigrated from Nigeria when I was two years old.
Many people who emigrated faced difficulties while assimilating into the surrounding culture.

Emmigrate is a common misspelling. The correct spelling is always “emigrate.”

Examples: Emigrate vs emmigrate

Many who emigrate from their home countries do so in search of more employment opportunities.

Many who emmigrate from their home countries do so in search of more employment opportunities.

Immigrate definition

“Immigrate” is a verb that refers to the act of relocating to a different country and is typically used when the focus of the sentence is on the country being moved to. Consequently, “immigrate” is typically followed by “to,” although it’s not always necessary.

Examples: Immigrate in a sentence
Nemo and his family immigrated to the United Kingdom from Guyana.
People all over the world immigrate, hoping for new beginnings.
Children who immigrate at a young age tend to adapt to their new environments.

Emigrant vs immigrant

The word “emigrant” is a noun that refers to someone who emigrates, meaning they leave their country of residence to permanently live in another. “Immigrant,” on the other hand, refers to someone who immigrates to, or enters, a new country intending to live there permanently.

Like the verb forms of these words, emigrant is used to emphasize that the person is leaving their country, whereas immigrant is used to emphasize that the person is entering a country.

Examples: Emigrant vs immigrant in a sentence
The emigrants were very emotional as they said goodbye to their homeland

The immigrant community in New York City consists of people from all over the world.

Many emigrants bring with them a small reminder of their home.

As a new immigrant, she was eager to learn the language and customs and make new friends.

Immigration vs emigration

“Immigration” is a noun that refers to the process of moving to another country to live there permanently. “Emigration” refers to the process of leaving a country to live in another. The difference between these two words is that “immigration” focuses on the country being moved to, whereas “emigration” focuses on the country being left.

Examples: Immigration vs emigration in a sentence
The politician introduced an immigration bill that allows for more skilled workers to enter the country.
His memoir focuses on his immigration to the United Kingdom and all the challenges and triumphs he faced.
The financial crisis in his home country prompted a wave of emigration.
The massive emigration wave from that region is well documented.

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Commonly confused words



Possum vs opossum

Straw man fallacy

Play on words

Weather vs whether

Post hoc fallacy


Inter vs intra

Fallacy of composition


To vs too

Tu quoque fallacy


Subjective vs objective

Either-or fallacy

What’s the difference between immigration and emigration?

Immigration and emigration are both nouns that are used to describe the process of moving from one country to another. “Immigration” focuses on individuals who immigrate to, or arrive in, a new country (e.g., “We discussed the country’s immigration laws”).

On the other hand, “emigration” focuses on those who emigrate from, or leave, their home country to live in a different one (e.g., “Too much emigration can financially cripple a country”).

What does migrant mean?

A migrant refers to a person who migrates or moves regularly, often in search of employment or better living conditions. Similarly, the word “migrant” also refers to animals that travel long distances from one habitat to another (e.g., “Many species of whales are migrants”).

Additionally, “migrant” is sometimes confused with the words “immigrant” and “emigrant.” However, “migrant” emphasizes that the movement to a new place happens regularly rather than once.

The verb “migrate” should also not be confused with the related verbs “immigrate” and “emigrate.

What does emmigration mean?

Emmigration is an incorrect spelling of “emigration.” It should be avoided, as the correct spelling of the word is always emigration (e.g., “We discussed the possibility of emigration”).

This word is closely related to the verb “emigrate.”


Gina Rancano

Gina holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, as well as a certificate in professional and public writing from Florida International University. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading.

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