Timothy didn’t want to emigrate from Turkey because he harbored great love for his homeland. His father insisted that he should immigrate to America for a more prosperous living but he argued that he didn’t want to migrate without family or until he had completed his education.

Are you wondering if the words emigrate and immigrate are synonyms? They are not. Feeling surprised? Don’t be. This is a very common misconception since both of these words mean moving from one place to another. So what is the difference that sets them apart?

While choosing which word to use, think about the perspective of the sentence. Think about the words go and come, both define relocating from one place to another but no one would call them synonyms.

The word ’emigrate’ looks from the perspective of departing or exiting. When someone is thinking about exiting from his base then he is trying to emigrate. The word ‘immigrate’ looks from the perspective of arriving. When someone is trying to leave their home to settle in a new place, they are trying to immigrate.

Finally, the word migrate also means moving from one location to another, but it is used in the sentence when you’re trying to emphasize the process of relocation.

Read further to find sentence examples and dictionary meanings below.

Emigrate vs immigrate vs migrate – definitions and meanings

Definition of emigrate

Emigrate is a verb which means to exit from a place where you’re currently settled. It is most commonly used when you’re trying to move from one country into another country in search of a better living standard. Notice, that the word emigrate contains the term ‘migrate’ which has roots in the Latin word ‘migrare’ which means to permanently move. People who’ve already permanently shifted from their home country are called ’emigrants’ and the action of moving is termed as ’emigration’.

Example sentences of emigrate

  • Masses of people from developing countries seek to emigrate from their homeland to search for better employment opportunities abroad.

This sentence talks about a very common type of emigration. Since, most of the people in developing countries have a hard time making a livelihood for themselves, they seek to shift from their homeland to a new country with the intention to find better job opportunities there.

  • Tim is an emigrant from Italy, he wanted to emigrate from a young age but his dream only came true when he was about thirty years old.

This sentence tells us that Tim is an emigrant. He successfully emigrated form his own country to a new place. He had a deep desire to move from his homeland when he was only a child but due to some circumstances his dream came true when he was about thirty years of age.

  • Hopeless Syrians wanted to emigrate from their terrorized country and settle in a place which was safer for their families.

This sentence tells us that because of the constant life threatening situation of Syria, many Syrians desired to leave their chaotic homeland to find a new and safer place for their families.

Definition of immigrate

The word immigrate is a verb which means to move from one’s own country to settle into a new one. The sentence is seen from the point of view of arriving. The word ‘immigrate’ also contains the term ‘migrate’ which has the same origin as emigrate; in the Latin word ‘migrare’ that translates to a permanent relocation. People who settle in a new country are called ‘immigrants’ and the actual action of moving is termed as ‘immigration.’

Example sentences of immigrate

  • Mandana Karimi is an Iranian model who immigrated to India in 2013 and began her career in acting.

This sentence talks about the famous model and actress Mandana Karimi(contestant of Bigg Boss 9) who left Iran and came to India to pursue a career in acting.

  • Haley wanted to immigrate to China, but due to the corona pandemic she decided it was best to stay at home.

This sentence talks about Haley, who had been wanting to arrive to China but because of the outbreak of the corona virus she slightly delayed her plans.

  • You can contact my immigration lawyer. He’s very skilled in what he does since he has helped countless families immigrate to Australia.

The communicator is trying to help someone immigrate to Australia. He is referring his skillful lawyer for the process and is saying that he has already helped numerous families immigrate so the listener should grasp the opportunity as soon as possible.

Definition of migrate

The word migrate is a verb which means to move from one place to another. It is used when the process of migration is being stressed. The difference that sets it apart from emigrate and migrate is that migrate denotes movement that might not be permanent. For example the ones migrating might move back to their original base or it might be seasonal like when animals migrate to and from different parts of the globe to fulfill their seasonal needs.

Example sentences of migrate

  • Many Syrians wanted to migrate from their homeland even if it was illegal. Many of them ended up drowning because they were loaded on fragile boats that could not tolerate the weight of so many passengers.

This sentence talks about Syrians who met an untimely death when they tried to leave their country loaded on small boats that could not carry the weight of so many passengers.

  • One of the mammals that migrate the longest routes are Humpback whales that cover an average of five thousand kilometers while migrating to the Pacific Ocean during autumn season.

An interesting fact about Humpback whales is that they’re one of the mammals that migrate or travel the longest distances on earth. They start to migrate in autumn so that when winter arrives they are in warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean which acts as their breeding ground.

  • During their entire life cycle, sea turtles migrate long distances within the sea in order to find sustenance and lay eggs.

It is remarkable to note that sea turtles also undertake the largest migrations in the world. Sea turtles might return to their original homeland, hence the word migrate is used because it’s not a permanent relocation.

Memorizing the differences between emigrate and immigrate is still very daunting. As a rule of thumb, take the first letter of each word: ‘e’ from emigrate and associate it with the ‘e’ of exit. Similarly, take ‘i’ from immigrate and associate it with the ‘i’ for ‘in’ as in come in. Thus if you just remember this in-and-exit tip you will be able to determine which word to use in a sentence.