Difference between Abroad and Overseas

Key Difference: Abroad is when a person travels, resides or works in a country that is not his own. This term can refer to any country, far or beyond, that is not the person’s country of origin or birth. On the other hand, overseas means that crossing the boundary of one country to travel to another country, but it requires crossing a body of water such as a sea or an ocean.

Abroad and overseas are two words that are most commonly used interchangeably, having almost the same definition, with a slight difference. Both these words refer to traveling or residing in a place outside one’s own country. Though, these two words are often used interchangeably and are used to describe the same thing, there are distinct differences between the two words.

Abroad is when a person travels, resides or works in a country that is not his own. This term can refer to any country, far or beyond, that is not the person’s country of origin or birth. “My relatives live abroad,” is a sentence that is commonly heard. The relatives could be Americans by birth, but currently reside in the UK. If a person is visiting a foreign country, he/she would most likely say that I am from abroad, meaning the current location is not his place of birth. Abroad is used by a person that is crossing over some border, it could be close or it could from far. Another common place where ‘abroad’ is heard is in ‘study abroad’ programs. These programs allow students to apply to universities that are not in their own country.

Merriam Webster defines ‘abroad’ as:

  • Over a wide area
  • Away from one's home
  • Beyond the boundaries of one's country
  • In wide circulation
  • Wide of the mark

On the other hand, overseas means that crossing the boundary of one country to travel to another country, but it requires crossing a body of water such as a sea or an ocean. Previously, people would most commonly travel from place to another through bodies of water. Ships were the main transport that was available at that time. Having to cross a body of water (sea or ocean) in order to travel to another land is what gave birth to the word overseas. It is also used in order to describe movement, transportation or communication over the sea by using overseas liners.

Merriam Webster defines ‘overseas’ as:

  • Beyond or across the sea
  • Of or relating to movement, transport, or communication over the sea
  • Situated, originating in, or relating to lands beyond the sea

The main difference between the two is the body of water in between. However, many people still continue to interchange the word.

Image Courtesy: msmc.edu, blog.vtravelled.com

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