Why the term Expat?


For many years I have resided outside my county of origin and for that I am called an Expatriate or Expat for short.  I have always wondered why this term is used because most of the Expats I know, including myself, are very patriotic.

Webster’s dictionary defines Expatriate as follows:


: to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere; also : to renounce allegiance to one’s native country


Medieval Latin expatriatus, past participle of expatriare to leave one’s own country, from Latin ex- + patria native country, from feminine of patrius of a father, from patr-, pater father

I can accept the part of the definition that says, “to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere” but I do not think renouncing allegiance applies, at least not to me or other Expats I know.  Most of us care a great deal about our home country.  We watch news channels and read website from our home country to keep up with current events.  We stay connected with friends back home using social media and we connect with other local Expats by attend events sponsored by our local Embassy, Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.  The lengths Expats take to watch sporting events from their home country particularly impress me.  I knew a British Expat in Hong Kong who wanted to watch an English Premiere League football match that was aired live at 3AM Hong Kong time.  He did not live near his office, so he booked himself into a hotel near his office and had a 3AM wake up call so he would be sure not to miss the match.  Last year I got up at 5:30AM so I could arrive at a local pub early enough to get a seat for me and 2 of my American friends so we could watch the Super Bowl.  When I arrived at 6:00AM I was amazed to see many other Americans had already arrived and by kick off time the place was packed.  Just last week I was at a pub and I was watching a sport that I had never seen before.  I started chatting to a guy sitting next to me who was Irish and he explained that we were watching Gallic Football.

We Expats do all of these things to stay connected with our roots.  We don’t want to lose sight of where we come from, what made us who we are today and how going forward we can integrate our core values and beliefs in our new lives abroad.

In my opinion, the efforts I have seen Expats make to continuously stay connected to their home country warrants a more befitting term.