What would be a usable alternative to overseas, in the very strict sense of "living in a country not your own"?

It is strange that the most common attributive adjective for this notion is overseas, because it strictly means "living in a country separated by a sea or ocean from your own". I personally find the use of this term for "living abroad" too loose and liberal. For example, if you're a Chinese citizen living in Cambodia or South Korea, I wouldn't personally consider you an "overseas" Chinese. The only alternative I can think of is expatriate, although I feel like this one's better served as a noun, as in Chinese expatriate rather than expatriate Chinese.

Many ____ Chinese frequently go back to their home country on Chinese New Year's.

  • 2
    Why must it go before the noun? (If it can go after, then "abroad" would work.) Aug 17, 2022 at 11:56
  • @MarcInManhattan because there are countless situations where it must go before the noun I guess? Think the difference between "live" and "alive" for example. By the way, "abroad" is an adverb. Aug 17, 2022 at 12:00
  • 1
    I'm not sure why having an adjective follow the noun in those other situations would mandate that it also follow the noun in this situation. By the way, according to M-W (and other dictionaries) "abroad" is an adjective. Aug 17, 2022 at 12:12
  • I was afraid it could've been considered an adjective by some dictionaries, in which case it'd be one of those postpositive adjectives with limited usage. Aug 17, 2022 at 12:26
  • 4
    Expatriate seems fine to me, and Merriam-Webster lists it as both adjective and noun, although there are limitations on its use. Is there some specific semantic or grammatical reason you don't like it, or some context you think it won't fit.
    – Stuart F
    Aug 20, 2022 at 10:26

3 Answers 3


I would rather go for a noun with Chinese as an adjective:

Many Chinese emigrants frequently go back to their home country on Chinese New Year's.

Even though it may not be necessary, I will still quote Cambridge's definition of the term:

a person who leaves a country permanently to live in another one

  • As it happened, most emigrants had a home to which they could return.

But if you look at the definition of Overseas Chinese given by Wikipedia, you will see that it applies to your sentence:

Overseas Chinese refers to people of Chinese birth or ethnicity who reside outside Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

All dictionaries acknowledge that overseas is not restricted to countries across the sea.

If you insist on an adjective before Chinese, in the same Wikipedia article there is this sentence:

More recently PRC policy has attempted to maintain the support of recently emigrated Chinese.

But I know, without recently the sentence does not sound flawless.

  • 1
    Are you sure "emigrated" is correct? I couldn't verify if it's an adjective. Emigrate as a verb is intransitive, so an attributive past participle seems dubious, because you emigrate but you can't *be emigrated. Aug 17, 2022 at 12:30
  • 1
    It stands for "who have emigrated": This is a common misapprehension among newly emigrated Americans. (The Times)
    – fev
    Aug 17, 2022 at 12:40
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    Emigrant is usually taken to imply that one intends to remain in another country permanently and treat it as one's home country, while the OP seems to be primarily interested in expatriates, that is those who continue to regard the country of their origin as their home county and intend to return to it eventually (although they now live elsewhere long-term).
    – jsw29
    Aug 20, 2022 at 15:42
  • @jsw29 in a way, although what I'm looking for is a broad umbrella term for "anyone who was born in one country and is living in another", which can be temporary like expats or permanent like immigrants/emigrants. Aug 23, 2022 at 3:29

Many from the Chinese diaspora frequently go back to their home country on for/at the Chinese New Year's Year.


2. In extended use. Any group of people who have spread or become dispersed beyond their traditional homeland or point of origin; the dispersion or spread of a group of people in this way; an instance of this. Also: the countries and places inhabited by such a group, regarded collectively.

1959 Chambers's Encycl. XIV. 355/2 Throughout the middle ages and down to modern times they [sc. the Vlachs] appear as a diaspora in the states founded by other nations.

1977 A. Sheridan tr. J. Lacan Écrits ix. 307 The ageing of the psychoanalytic group in the diaspora of the war.

2005 Time Out N.Y. 4 Aug. 120/1 The bands that attend LAMC [= Latin Alternative Music Conference] are from all over the Spanish diaspora.

  • Dispora is exactly the right term, if one wishes to include, not only the expatriates and recent emigrants, but also the descendants of those who emigrated in the past. Unfortunately, the question does not make it very precise what the group is that the term should cover.
    – jsw29
    Aug 20, 2022 at 20:23

Foreign might serve your purpose

From Cambridge dictionary

Foreign: Belonging or connected to a country that is not your own. e.g. Going to a foreign country. Living in a foreign country.

Edit 1: On second thoughts, Non-Resident may also serve your purpose

  • 1
    This may be an OK answer to what is in the title of the question, considered by itself, but it doesn't fit the purposes that the OP explains in the body of the question.
    – jsw29
    Aug 20, 2022 at 15:26
  • But it's the people's current location that's foreign, whereas an adjective is required to describe the people, who, in this context, are not foreign. (It's "X people currently in Y as opposed to in X", not "X people currently in Y as opposed to native Y residents".)
    – Rosie F
    Aug 20, 2022 at 17:16
  • Try saying "foreign Americans" to someone you know and see if it works. I wonder why I didn't think of this blindingly obvious choice. Aug 23, 2022 at 3:31
  • You can opt for creative use of the word foreign as in "foreign-returned", "foreign land" etc. or not.
    – banuyayi
    Aug 31, 2022 at 5:16

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