abroad (as a noun?)

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dn88

Senior Member
Polish
Hello, everyone.

I've recently noticed that some dictionaries list the word "abroad" as a noun.

For example, at this link (Free Dictionary) you can find the following definitions:
abroad
n. A foreign country or countries in which to live or travel: "Do you like abroad or hate it?"

n. 7. a foreign land or lands: imports from abroad.
I'd consider "imports from abroad" a poor example; to my mind, it's like saying that "behind" is a noun in "from behind".

And what about "Do you like abroad..."? Is this natural English? It sounds odd to me.

Thank you.
 
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  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Intriguing, dn88!

    I can't imagine using "abroad" as a noun. And despite the fact that Do you like abroad or hate it? is attributed to John le Carré, I couldn't say it, myself ~ unless, perhaps, I was being facetious and putting "abroad" in virtual quotes. (Perhaps that's what le Carré was doing?)

    I also agree with you that "abroad" isn't a noun in imports from abroad.

    I look forward to other comments with interest!:)

    (cross-posted with Donny)
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I've just looked up the le Carré reference: it's from A Perfect Spy.

    And the important point about it is that it's said by a character who's described as "whimsical if not downright fey".

    So I'd say that the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language was wrong to treat it as a serious example of "abroad" as a noun:cool:.

    ---------

    And now I've done what I should have done before, and looked it up in the (big) OED, which, as it turns out, does have "abroad" as a noun, with the definition: The world outside one's own country; foreign or overseas countries.

    Looking at the last four OED citations, though, I'd say that three out of four are pretty whimsical - though not the 1993 reference to "the near abroad":

    1925 R. Macaulay Casual Comm. 138 Restaurants and hotels are getting fuller. Abroad is getting fuller.
    1945 N. Mitford Pursuit of Love xv. 114 ‘Frogs’, he would say, ‘are slightly better than Huns or Wops, but abroad is unutterably bloody and foreigners are fiends.’
    1993 Europe–Asia Stud. 45 994 The lack of a clear policy concept in the Kremlin concerning the ‘near abroad’ in general.
    2000 N. Henderson Old Friends & Mod. Instances (2001) xvii. 186 He likes abroad and he loves foreign travel.

    Hmmm....
     
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    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I find Do you like abroad? odd as well. That said, "the abroad" is a very old-fashioned way of indicating foreign climes...;) There's an example of it here (source: huffingtonpost.co.ok), I quote:

    It might be time to start packing our skimpies and thinking about heading off to 'the abroad' again.
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    At Readme, a review of the Kingsley Amis novel I Like it Here has: "The anti-hero -- a minor author and novelist with a dread of 'abroad'". I think that jibes with Loob's opinion that it's facetious and belongs in quotes.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    More exploration has thrown up this Wikipedia article on "the near abroad":
    In the political language of Russia and some other post-Soviet states, the near abroad [...] refers to the newly independent republics which emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    The term was popularised by Russian foreign minister Andrey Kozyrev in the early 1990s, referring to central and eastern Europe;[1] "near abroad" became more widely used in English, usually to assert Russia's right to have major influence in the region,[2][3] but also for marketing purposes by various companies. [...]
    As a result of the acceptance of the term "near abroad," the word "abroad" has acquired the function of a noun in English.
    I think the Wiki article is exaggerating in the last sentence quoted. I do think "abroad" has acquired (non-facetious) noun status in that particular phrase.

    I still don't see it as having noun status elsewhere, though:).
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    So you're saying it's an older usage, lc? I can't find any evidence for that: the earliest noun citations in the (big) OED are:

    1866 ‘G. Eliot’ Felix Holt III. Epil. 281 He was understood to have gone to reside at a great distance: some said ‘abroad’, that large home of ruined reputations.
    1894 Westm. Gaz. 9 July 1/3 A considerable fraction will have ‘gone abroad’, especially to those parishes of Abroad called Norway and Switzerland.
    1895 K. Grahame Golden Age 98 She was somewhere over in that beastly abroad.

    And all of these look pretty whimsical to me:).
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    And all of these look pretty whimsical to me:).
    :thumbsup:
    What seems to be happening here is that our cherished colleagues are dredging up inevitable examples that somewhere, somehow, somebody has twisted the malleable English language.

    To present those as "normal" is a disservice to learners trying to come to grips with our cherished language.

    Our equally cherished learners on this forum deserve the mainstream, not the oddball.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Who said it was normal? And why should our cherished learners only be taught about what you call the mainstream? Especially when it was a cherished learner who asked about 'abroad' used as a noun in the first place (and it is a noun: it's old-fashioned, it's whimsical, whatever but it is, without doubt, a noun.
     
    I agree with London and sd, it's been used as a noun, but is generally whimsical or playfully contrived.

    1895 K. Grahame Golden Age 98 'She was somewhere over in that beastly abroad'.
    Standard usage is as an adverb, answering to *where* something was done: "He performed abroad." :tick:
    Compare with "He performed over there in the beastly abroad." :tick::D
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    ... it is, without doubt, a noun.
    I guess that's where we differ, lc.

    I can put any word in inverted commas and use it, whimsically or facetiously, like a noun. "Off" is such a stupid word; surely it ought to be "offen"? But that doesn't make "off" a noun....

    That said, you have the OED on your side:D.
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you all. :)

    If my memory serves me right, once I read in a profile description (it was written by an American girl) on a website I used to visit something along the lines of "I never had any opportunity to visit abroad." I can't recall the exact wording (and I can't find the profile), but I know it struck me as odd.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi dn88, in the sentence you quote in #19, you could actually make a case that "visit" is being used in an intransitive sense (definition 3 in the OALD here), and "abroad" is functioning as an adverb.
    To visit = to make visits, to stay for a short time. Where? Abroad.

    There may also be other reasons why someone would write what looks like an ungrammatical sentence. There are many different varieties of English usage, because they speak it a lot abroad ;).
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi dn88, in the sentence you quote in #19, you could actually make a case that "visit" is being used in an intransitive sense (definition 3 in the OALD here), and "abroad" is functioning as an adverb.
    To visit = to make visits, to stay for a short time. Where? Abroad.
    Yes, I should have thought of that. Maybe this usage is just uncommon. I would normally expect something like "There are some places I'd like to visit abroad", where "visit" was being used tranistively.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I can put any word in inverted commas and use it, whimsically or facetiously, like a noun. "Off" is such a stupid word; surely it ought to be "offen"? But that doesn't make "off" a noun....
    Your example is not convincing, Loob. :(

    With the Wiki article Quotation mark as a reference, I'd say the inverted commas in your sentence above indicate that "an instance of a word refers to the word itself rather than its associated concept: Cheese is derived from milk. "Cheese'"is derived from a word in Old English."

    That's not what the inverted commas around abroad in the earlier sentences do. Instead they are used to "indicate that the writer realizes that a word is not being used in its current commonly accepted sense: Crystals somehow "know" which shape to grow into."
     
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