in/on/at the periphery?

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Hello, everyone,

I was wondering what the right preposition used with periphery was: in the periphery, on the periphery, at the periphery? For some reason, they all sound right in my head, so I can't figure out which one to use. I would like to indicate the location of a country in/on/at the periphery of a continent, so which one would be the best? Also, are there any cases where the rest of the prepositions can be used with this word, or is it only one that should be used at all times?

Thanks a lot for the clarification!!
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Never "in." The periphery of something is its outer edge. Since an edge has no area, nothing can be in one.

    Of the other two, I prefer "on" in this context, but I think that's a matter of personal style. I think "at" could also be used.

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I would say "on the periphery of a continent". We can't discuss here whether the other two prepositions would work in other contexts because the forum rules stipulate one specific context per thread.


    Senior Member
    English English
    Hello Favonius.
    Vietnam is on the periphery of Asia
    Spitzbergen is at the periphery of the habitable world

    I think I'd use on for specific geographical places, like continents; at for less-defined, more 'conceptual' places.

    I wouldn't ever use in.


    Thank you all for the helpful responses. My initial choice was "on" but I wanted to convey both a geographical and a more conceptual idea, so I wasn't sure. Thank you again!

    Nicholas Basily

    Argentina - English and Spanish
    Coming back to this thread over 5 years later, I'd like to mention that a quick search on the web gets equal numbers of hits for both "in" and "on" the periphery, over 15 million. Although many of these INs appear to have been written by foreigners or translated from foreign languages, the Oxford Dictionary lists several:
    • ‘If she sees me in the periphery of her vision, I'm screwed.’
    • ‘Vimentin filaments are more prevalent in the central regions of the cell than in the cell periphery.’
      • ‘By definition, the lesions are in the lung periphery and therefore rarely present with hemoptysis or signs of infection.’
    As well as examples using other prepositions:
      • ‘The base plate may include flanges disposed along the outer periphery of the base plate.’
        • ‘Briefly, the initially adsorbed liposomes seemed to collapse from the outer periphery toward the center of the liposome.’
    See periphery - definition of periphery in English | Oxford Dictionaries
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