Abroad vs Overseas
English language is full of pairs of words that have similar, almost same meanings. One such pair is abroad and overseas. Both these words, when used, mean a place outside one’s own country. Many a times, they are used interchangeably as if they are synonyms. However, there are subtle differences that necessitate use of one or the other in some contexts.
“My son works or lives abroad.” This is a statement that we get to hear commonly, and here ‘abroad’ refers to a country or region other than one’s own. Any country that is not one’s country by birth can be termed as abroad. If you are in a foreign country, you would say I am abroad while talking to folks back home. If a man is being tried in a court of law, he is often banned from going abroad. Abroad is used when a person is going to a nearby country by crossing mainland and not going over the sea. Inside Europe, when crossing over one country to an adjacent country, it is prudent to refer to the country as abroad rather than overseas.
In earlier times, sea voyages were the only way to reach other countries except when crossing boundaries to reach a border nation. Since one reached another country after crossing an ocean or sea, the word overseas comes into effect for reference to foreign countries. These days, abroad has become more common than overseas. Overseas is still being used though in other contexts such as when we describe employment opportunities in foreign countries as being more attractive.
What is the difference between Abroad and Overseas?
Both abroad as well as overseas refer to a land outside one’s own country. However for a country that is surrounded by water from all directions such as the island country of Sri Lanka, other countries are all overseas as one has to travel beyond sea, to reach another country. For people of a landlocked country, abroad is the word that is suitable as there is no sea to cross over while going to another country. In most cases, abroad and overseas are interchangeable and synonymous though when crossing over seas, it is better to use overseas than abroad.