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I've heard of the word 'Occidental' or 'The Occident' used to mean the same as Oriental or 'The Orient' but applied to the European continent. This I've seen in historic fiction, such as the works of Patrick O'Brian, and 'The Occidental' - being a pub in Sydney.

Apart from that - I've never heard anyone use this term in conversation. Is it still used?

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Language-wise, occidental is neither the same as oriental nor is it applied specifically to Europe. See my answer below for an explanation. –  Kris Dec 24 '11 at 10:09
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Hawkeye, do you mean that The Occident is used to mean the Western World, in the same way the The Orient is used to mean the Eastern World? –  Matt Эллен Dec 24 '11 at 10:27
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Occident is the antonym of orient, not a synonym.

Oc·ci·dent
noun \ˈäk-sə-dənt, -ˌdent\
: west
(from sunset)

Occident is not "used to mean the same as Oriental". However, the word is very rarely used, and today, it is mostly limited to sense of the Western World.

This ngram shows the limited and declining use or the words. Notice oriental itself steeply falling in recent years.


1950-2008: occident,occidental,orient,oriental Occident,Occidental,Orient,Oriental,OCCIDENT,OCCIDENTAL,ORIENT,ORIENTAL

screenshot

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Note that Google ngrams is case sensitive, and both Oriental and Occidental are commonly capitalized. These are not captured in the link. –  Brett Reynolds Dec 24 '11 at 12:51
    
@BrettReynolds: Replaced ngram image with enhanced scope as suggested. Tx. –  Kris Dec 24 '11 at 14:36
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I use it mostly in a pun -- being a linguist, I would -- the opposite of getting Oriented is getting Occidised. –  John Lawler Dec 24 '11 at 17:31
    
Of course,'orient' is so high because it is also a verb. But did you know the connection? See english.stackexchange.com/a/39099/8019 –  TimLymington Dec 24 '11 at 17:40
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@Kris: Um, yes. That's the pun. Getting occidised is much more often fatal than getting oriented. –  John Lawler Dec 25 '11 at 18:36
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