Expatriate doesn’t mean Ex-Patriot for Americans Living Abroad
After moving to the Philippines in 2006, I noticed the word “expatriate” used and abused more often than any other when it came to American citizens living outside of the United States. Even though “expatriate” sounds a lot like “ex-patriot”, I assure you the meanings of the words are completely different. An expatriate is not an ex-patriot.
In writing, we use “expat” far more often than “expatriate” because the shortened version is easier to read and easier to say. Anyway, it may help you understand the differences if I lay it all out for you.
The word “patriot” has a couple of common meanings:
- A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
- A person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.
An ex-patriot, therefore, would be someone who is now opposed to either or both of these definitions. That person, most likely, would be an insurgent or a supporter of an insurgency.
The root word, “patriate” has no meaning for an individual and is a back-formed word from “repatriate”, which I’ll be listing after this. The word “expatriate” has a few common meanings. It’s a verb as well as a noun.
- To banish (a person) from his or her native country.
- To withdraw (oneself) from residence in one’s native country.
- To withdraw (oneself) from allegiance to one’s country.
- An expatriated person.
The word “repatriate” has only one meaning: To bring a person or send a person back to the country or land of citizenship.
While repatriation has no bearing on most Americans, Republic Act No. 9225 (Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003) of the Philippines allows for Filipinos that became citizens of a foreign country to become citizens of the Philippines again by affirming a new oath of allegiance – they become dual citizens. Those who become American citizens today are automatically dual citizens, as are their children.
What Am I?
Well, I probably fall under both definitions of “patriot”, but I only fall under the 2nd and 4th definition of “expatriate”, which is what most Americans living outside of the United States would probably fall under. Since I don’t intend to become a Filipino citizen (and becoming a Filipino citizen wouldn’t benefit me at all), repatriation isn’t an issue I’ll ever have to contend with.
I figured I’d better make sure people understand what I’m talking about when I mention “expat” or “expatriate” in other articles. I don’t want people confusing the meanings because I’m an expatriate and a patriot at the same time.
Originally published in August of 2013 — I’ve updated and corrected some information.