AskDefine | Define exile

Dictionary Definition



1 voluntarily absent from home or country [syn: expatriate]
2 expelled from home or country by authority [syn: deportee]
3 the act of expelling a person from their native land; "men in exile dream of hope"; "his deportation to a penal colony"; "the expatriation of wealthy farmers"; "the sentence was one of transportation for life" [syn: deportation, expatriation, transportation] v : expel from a country; "The poet was exiled because he signed a letter protesting the government's actions" [syn: expatriate, deport] [ant: repatriate]

User Contributed Dictionary



Middle English exil, from Old French essil, exil, from Latin exsilium, exilium "state of exile", derived from exsul, exul "exiled person".


  • US: /ˈɛɡˌzaɪl/, /ˈɛkˌsaɪl/, /"Eg%zaIl/, /"Ek%saIl/
    • Hyphenation: ex·ile


  1. The state of being banished from one's home or country.
    he lived in exile.
    they chose exile rather than assimilation.
  2. Someone who is banished from one's home or country.
    he lived as an exile.



the state of being banished from one's home or country
  • Finnish: maanpako
  • German: Exil
  • Hungarian: száműzés, száműzetés
  • Portuguese: exílio
someone who is banished from one's home or country


  1. To send into exile.



to send into exile

Extensive Definition

Exile can be a form of punishment. It means to be away from one's home (i.e. city, state or country) while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened by prison or death upon return.
It is common to distinguish between internal exile, i.e., forced resettlement within the country of residence, and external exile, deportation outside the country of residence.
Exile can also be a self-imposed departure from one's homeland. Self-exile is often practiced as form of protest or to avoid persecution.

Personal Exile

Exile was used particularly for political opponents of those in power. The use of exile for political purposes can sometimes be useful for the government because it prevents the exilee from organizing in their native land or from becoming a martyr. People feared exile and banishment so much because it effectively meant that they were going to die. In European history, at a time prior to Roman invasion, people lived completely co-dependently in farm towns where everyone had a function. Exile represented a severe punishment, particularly for those, like Ovid or Du Fu, exiled to strange or backward regions, cut off from all of the possibilities of life as well as their families and associates. Dante describes the pain of exile in The Divine Comedy:
«. . . Tu lascerai ogne cosa diletta
più caramente; e questo è quello strale
che l'arco de lo essilio pria saetta.
Tu proverai sì come sa di sale
lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle
lo scendere e 'l salir per l'altrui scale . . .»
". . . You will leave everything you love most:
this is the arrow that the bow of exile
shoots first. You will know how salty
another's bread tastes and how hard it
is to ascend and descend
another's stairs . . ."
Paradiso XVII: 55-60
Exile has been softened, to some extent, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as exiles have received welcome in other countries and have either created new communities within those countries or, less frequently, returned to their homelands following the demise of the regime that exiled them.

Government In Exile

During a foreign occupation or after a coup d'etat, a government in exile of a such afflicted country may be established abroad. One of the most well-known instances of this is the Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a government in exile led by the Dalai Lama in India, claiming to be the legitimate ruler of the historical Tibet‎.

Nation In Exile

When large groups, or occasionally a whole people or nation is exiled, it can be said that this nation is in exile, or Diaspora. Nations that have been in exile for substantial periods include the Jews, who were deported by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 597 BC and again in the years following the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem in the year AD 70. After the partitions of Poland in the late 18th century, and following the uprisings (like Kosciuszko Uprising, November Uprising and January Uprising) against the partitioning powers (Russian Empire, Prussia and Austro-Hungary), many Poles have chosen - or been forced - into exile, forming large diasporas (known as Polonia), especially in France and the United States.The entire population of Crimean Tatars (200,000) that remained in their homeland Crimea was exiled on 18 May 1944 to Central Asia as a form of ethnic cleansing and collective punishment on false accusations. At Diego Garcia, between 1967 and 1973 the British Government forcibly removed some 2,000 Chagossian resident islanders to make way for a military base today jointly operated by the US and UK.

Tax Exile

A wealthy citizen who departs from a former abode for a lower tax jurisdiction (a "tax haven") in order to reduce his/her tax burden is termed a tax exile.

Notable People Who Have Been In Exile

Fictional Characters In Exile


exile in Czech: Exil
exile in Danish: Eksil
exile in German: Exil
exile in Estonian: Eksiil
exile in Modern Greek (1453-): Εξορία
exile in Spanish: Exilio
exile in Esperanto: Ekzilo
exile in French: Exil
exile in Galician: Exilio
exile in Korean: 유배
exile in Italian: Esilio
exile in Dutch: Ballingschap
exile in Japanese: 流罪
exile in Norwegian: Eksil
exile in Norwegian Nynorsk: Eksil
exile in Occitan (post 1500): Exili
exile in Polish: Banicja
exile in Portuguese: Exílio
exile in Romanian: Exil
exile in Russian: Изгнание
exile in Slovak: Exil
exile in Swedish: Exil
exile in Ukrainian: Вигнання
exile in Chinese: 流亡

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

DP, Ishmael, Uitlander, abstract, alien, alienate, ban, banish, banishment, bar, barbarian, blackball, blackballing, cast off, cast out, castaway, chuck, clear, clear away, clear out, clear the decks, clearance, cut, cut out, declasse, defrocking, degradation, demotion, depluming, deport, deportation, deported population, deportee, deprivation, deracine, derelict, detachment, diaspora, disbarment, discard, disfellowship, disjunction, dispersion, displace, displaced person, displacement, displuming, disposal, dispose of, disposition, dispossess, drive out, eject, ejection, elide, eliminate, elimination, emigrant, emigrate, emigration, emigre, eradicate, eradication, evacuate, evacue, evacuee, evict, evictee, exclude, exclusion, excommunicate, excommunication, expatriate, expatriation, expel, expellee, expulsion, extradite, extradition, foreign devil, foreigner, fugitate, fugitation, get quit of, get rid of, get shut of, gringo, immigrant, in-migrant, leper, liquidate, liquidation, maroon, migrant, migration, migrator, migratory worker, nonperson, ostracism, ostracization, ostracize, oust, out-migrant, out-migrate, out-migration, outcast, outcast of society, outcaste, outlander, outlaw, outlawing, outlawry, outsider, pariah, persona non grata, pick out, proscribe, purge, refugee, relegate, relegation, remigrate, remigration, removal, remove, riddance, root out, root up, rusticate, rustication, scattering, send away, send down, send to Coventry, separation, severance, snub, social outcast, spurn, stateless person, stranger, strike off, strike out, stripping, suspension, the Wandering Jew, throw over, throw overboard, thrust out, tramontane, transport, transportation, trekker, ultramontane, unacceptable person, undesirable, unfrocking, unperson, untouchable, wanderer, weed out, wetback, withdrawal
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