Oc·​ci·​dent | \ ˈäk-sə-dənt How to pronounce Occident (audio) , -ˌdent \

Definition of Occident

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You may not be reflecting on the history of the word Occident as you watch a beautiful sunset, but there is a connection. Occident, which comes from Latin occidere, meaning "to fall," once referred to the part of the sky in which the sun goes down. Geoffrey Chaucer used the word in that now-obsolete sense around 1390 in The Man of Law's Tale. In an earlier work, The Monk's Tale, which was written circa 1375, he used the word in the "western regions and countries" sense that we still use. Exactly what is meant by "western" is not always the same. Originally, Occident referred to western Europe or the Western Roman Empire. In modern times, it usually refers to some portion of Europe and North America as distinct from Asia. The opposite of Occident is Orient, which comes from Latin oriri ("to rise").

First Known Use of Occident

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Occident

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin occident-, occidens "the part of the sky where the sun sets, the west," noun derivative of present participle of occidere "to be struck down, die, sink below the horizon (of the sun or other heavenly bodies)," from oc-, assimilated variant of ob- ob- + cadere "to fall" — more at chance entry 1

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The first known use of Occident was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Occident.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Occident. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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