The Cambridge English dictionary states that to "raise" is:

to take care of a person, or an animal or plant, until they are completely grown

Taken literally, if you were to spend 0-17 in Canada, and 17-18 in Italy, would you only be able to say you were raised in Italy?

In the above example, could they say that they "grew up in" or "are from" Canada but were still raised in Italy, i.e. is the meaning different?

Grew up / from

Now take a person who says "I'm from Canada but I grew up in Italy."

Does this imply that:

  1. Their family is Canadian, but they spent 0-18 in Italy.
  2. They spent their pre-schooling in Italy.
  3. They spent their primary school years in Italy.
  4. They spent their secondary school years in Italy.
  5. All or some combination of the above

Bringing it back to the "raised" dilemma, would changing the sentence to "I'm from Canada but I was raised in Italy" change the above answer?

Does this perhaps vary by location?

Reason I'm asking

Sometimes I meet people who are staunchly insistent they are from, grew up in or raised in a city they moved away from when they were 12. These people denounce the place they moved to when they were 12.

The reverse happens just as often, I'll meet people who are staunchly insistent they're from, grew up in or raised in a city they moved to when they were 12. They denounce the place they spent their first 12 years in.

Do these terms follow any logic or is it purely sentimental? I was using Canada and Italy as placeholders, would the meaning change if we were to use cities or towns within the same country?

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    Definitely if you only spent 17-18 in Italy you could not say you were raised in Italy.
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 5:15
  • 2
    In the UK at least 'from' can be used for the place you currently live (particularly if you've lived there for an extended period) but if someone wants to specify the place where they grew up they will often say that they come from there originally. In my case I'm from Lincolnshire but I come from Derbyshire originally. Exactly what age ranges any given person uses to determine where they 'grew up' or 'came from', however, is a matter of personal choice. There are no rules either expressed or implied.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 7:21
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    You're not meant to take the dictionary definition literally. You were raised (or, as I would say, brought up) in a place if you spent most of your childhood there. You don't have to have lived there until you came of age. Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 8:39
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    Raising a child refers to the entire process from birth to adulthood. In your example of a child who spent 17 years in Canada and then 1 year in Italy (if you're saying that this particular child wasn't fully grown until 18; this age of course varies with location, history and the individual) then they were raised for 17 years in Canada and 1 year in Italy. They might say "I was raised mostly in Canada" or "I was raised in Canada until we moved to Italy when I was 17" or something similar with factual accuracy.
    – Showsni
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 14:21
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    @samar i Just because people express strong opinions on the matter doesn't mean that there are rules. Indeed the fact that many of the strong opinions are at odds with each other proves that there are no universally accepted or externally imposed rules relating to this matter.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 20:49

3 Answers 3


The OP seems to be interpreting the words 'until they are completely grown' in the quoted definition as implying that one's location just before the moment at which one becomes 'completely grown', determines where one was raised, and also seems to assume that this moment is something like one's 18th birthday. The meaning that was intended by the dictionary definition is, however, that being raised encompasses the whole of the period between one's birth and that moment (whatever it may be).

Now if one has spent that period in different places, what should one say about where one was raised? The answer to that question has nothing to do with the specifics of the meaning of the word raised, but follows straightforwardly from the ordinary considerations of pragmatics. Suppose that there are seven apples, two oranges, and one pear in the basket. What should one say about what fruit is in the basket? Obviously, one can give the full answer: 'there are seven apples, two oranges, and one pear'. If only a short, rough answer is needed, one can say 'mostly apples'. It would, however, be misleading to just say 'there is a pear in the basket' (and nothing else). One could say 'among other things, there is a pear', but only if the context is somehow specially focused on pears.

Analogously, in the OP's example of somebody who has lived in Canada until the 17th birthday and then spent a year in Italy, one could either say that the person was 'raised in Canada until the 17th birthday and then for a year in Italy' or that the person was 'raised mostly in Canada'. It would be misleading to say that the person was 'raised in Italy', although one could say that person was 'raised in Italy, among other places', if the context is somehow specially focused on Italy.

Exactly the same considerations determine what one would say about where such a person grew up.

As to where one is from, that can mean where one was born (or, more precisely, where one's family lived around the time when one was born), where one was raised, where one lives now (when one is at the moment somewhere else), where one works, and possibly other things. The problems of this ambiguity inherent in the question 'where are you from?' are amplified by the fact that it is often asked as a small-talk question, without the questioner having any definite idea as to what kind of information the question is supposed elicit, and without having any real interest in the answer.


"I'm from Canada but I grew up in Italy."

This is imprecise and a general statement. If you wanted to know exactly the movements, you would have to ask. Once you asked, you would be given context and, hopefully, details.

Again in general terms, "I'm from Canada but I grew up in Italy." gives the impression that the person was born in Canada and spent some time, say, from a couple of months to 6 years there*. After this, the family moved to Italy and the speaker is now adult.

Any attempt to extract more information than this from the statement will fail.

From X = to have ones origins in X Grow up / be raised somewhere = to pass beyond infancy and into adulthood somewhere.

*even these limits are approximate. I once met a man who told me he was from England: it turned out that his mother had been a passenger on a ship from Germany to Canada and she had given birth to him when the ship was in Southampton. Other than that, he had never been to England.


Imprecision, subjectivity and UK usage

I don’t think these are precise terms. Having been born, grown up/raised and still living in the England, this is my take:

  • from: a general term used as shorthand for the place you feel you come from, at any time in your life. When we‘re travelling, even my German wife says she’s “from England”, only expanding on her birthplace if the conversation leads in that direction. It can also be used thus: “My mother’s family are from Cornwall”, which is especially relevant in (say) family histories or, sometimes, when people like to claim a slightly disingenuous cultural heritage based on their distant forbears. Of course, “born in [country/region]” is a more precise term, if that's what you intend to convey. Addition: see the comment below about usage (sometimes in ignorance) when people might ask “where are you from” to others who appear to fall outside their familiar ethnic group. This can be from innocence or ignorance but also as a racist slur: for instance, “go back to where you came from” might be said (or shouted) at a British/American-born non-white person.
  • grew up: where you feel you experienced the main part of your childhood, before you were an adult (subjective age determined by anything between “when I left home” to “when I was legally allowed to…”). “I went to school in/at…” conveys a similar meaning covering as it does, a generalised sense of childhood.
  • raised: as grew up but with a more specific U.S. flavour, especially in the U.K. where it’s sometimes even said with a fake American accent as a parody. When used in the UK it has a “borrowed from American TV” feel, and is becoming more common (without any irony) as a result. However, “raised” also implies a range that extends before school age and after childhood, because there’s a specific implication of values having been passed on from one generation to another, as in “I was raised to believe that…”.

So if someone was born on a country and initially went to school there, but moved to another country at 12, I think their usage is going to reflect which country had the biggest impact on their life.

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    That's brilliant, Dave. Funnily (synchronously) enough, I've just been editing a section in my blogpost "Asian, Indian, Pakistani - what's in a name?" headed "Where are you from?" My minefield scenario is a white Briton asking that question of a brown Briton who’s a stranger or casual acquaintance. I'll (also) invoke my wife. (It's OK, she never reads anything I write.) As a brown Muslim Pakistani Punjabi by way of the Kenyan diaspora, she sometimes gets asked that question, and usually says, "Kenya". Can I post a link here? I'll give it a try: soothfairy.com/2016/05/21/asian-indian-pa Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 11:53
  • @Chrishughes - thanks for there response, I've updated my post with a brief expansion under "from". I've read your blog entry before and it's very in-depth look at that specific issue, and others, so I can heartily recommend it. Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 13:58

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