English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I need to find a word which is a good match for the word "surrounds" (n., the surrounding land or territory), but which instead describes all of much the space not included in the "surrounds".

To explain a bit more clearly, suppose "surrounds" approximately refers to the territory visible within the horizon in all directions. The word I am looking for likewise approximately refers to all of the land beyond that. Whether it refers to the entire rest of the globe or not is perhaps not important, but I am not looking for a strictly professional or scientific term, just one which might be a good pair with "surrounds", which to me, sounds a bit informal.

share|improve this question
"Outlying areas" may be similar to what you need... – Rory Alsop Jan 13 '13 at 12:19
@RoryAlsop outlying is just another adjective to modify area and doesn't change the meaning to beyond the surrounding area it just changes meaning to something else – from OED: Situated at a distance from the centre of an area; remote, out-of-the-way – spiceyokooko Jan 13 '13 at 12:47

Outskirts is the correct term I believe.

John lived in the outskirts of the city

Outlaying areas is also correct, but certainly less common and seems a little less conversational.

share|improve this answer

I visualize a circle with a person at the center. The horizon represents a belt around the circumference. What's beyond that belt is what we're trying to name.

The previously suggested word "outlying" could work, but it doesn't definitely imply the space outside of that belt we're calling something like "the surroundings". If you're trying to maintain a level of certainty with this term, and you already have a sense and even a name for the inner territory and the surrounding territory, I would suggest some compound using "extra-".

"extra-" a prefix meaning “outside,” “beyond,” freely used as an English formative.

Perhaps some form of extra- + [adjective form of name for area inside the circle]:

  • Extra-territorial (if you're talking about an expanse of land)
  • Extra-spacial (if you're talking about dimensions)
share|improve this answer

Starting from the observer, the areas may be called the central or inner, the peripheral and the outlying or beyond.

@Rory Alsop was correct in suggesting outlying areas.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.