from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The cardinal point on the mariner's compass 270° clockwise from due north and directly opposite east.
  • noun The direction opposite to the direction of the earth's axial rotation.
  • noun An area or region lying in the west.
  • noun The western part of the earth, especially Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
  • noun The western part of a region or country.
  • noun A historical region of the United States west of the Allegheny Mountains.
  • noun The region of the United States west of the Mississippi River.
  • noun The United States, Canada, and the noncommunist countries of Europe, especially during the Cold War.
  • noun The nations of North America and Europe with developed capitalist economies, especially in contrast to less-developed nations.
  • adjective To, toward, of, facing, or in the west.
  • adjective Originating in or coming from the west.
  • adverb In, from, or toward the west.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One of the four cardinal points of the compass, opposite to the east, and lying on the left hand when one faces the north; the point in the heavens where the sun sets at the equinox, or the corresponding point on the earth; more generally, the place of sunset. Abbreviated W.
  • noun The quarter or direction toward the mean point of sunset; the tendency or trend directly away from the east; the western part or side: with to, at, or on: as, that place lies to the west of this; to travel to the west; at or on the west were high mountains; Europe is bounded on the west by the Atlantic.
  • noun The western part or division of a region mentioned or understood: as, the west of Europe or of England; the Canadian west; he lives in the west (of a town, county, etc.).
  • noun Eccles.:
  • noun The point of the compass toward which one is turned when looking from the altar or high altar toward the further end of the nave or the usual position of the main entrance of a church. See east, n., 1.
  • noun In church hist., the church in the Western Empire and countries adjacent, especially on the north; the Western Church
  • Situated in, on, or to the west; being or lying westward with reference to something else; western: as, the West Indies; West Virginia; the west bank or the west fork of a river; west longitude.
  • Coming or moving from the west or western region: as, a west wind.
  • Eccles., situated in, or in the direction of, that part of a church which is furthest from the altar or high altar; opposite the ecclesiastical east
  • To move toward the west; turn or veer to the west.
  • To or toward the west; westward or westerly; specifically (ecclesiastical), toward or in the direction of that part of a church which is furthest from the altar or high altar.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Lying toward the west; situated at the west, or in a western direction from the point of observation or reckoning; proceeding toward the west, or coming from the west.
  • adjective (Eccl.) Designating, or situated in, that part of a church which is opposite to, and farthest from, the east, or the part containing the chancel and choir.
  • adjective the fashionable part of London, commencing from the east, at Charing Cross.
  • intransitive verb obsolete To pass to the west; to set, as the sun.
  • intransitive verb To turn or move toward the west; to veer from the north or south toward the west.
  • adverb Westward.
  • noun The point in the heavens where the sun is seen to set at the equinox; or, the corresponding point on the earth; that one of the four cardinal points of the compass which is in a direction at right angles to that of north and south, and on the left hand of a person facing north; the point directly opposite to east.
  • noun A country, or region of country, which, with regard to some other country or region, is situated in the direction toward the west.
  • noun The Westen hemisphere, or the New World so called, it having been discovered by sailing westward from Europe; the Occident.
  • noun (U. S. Hist. & Geog.) Formerly, that part of the United States west of the Alleghany mountains; now, commonly, the whole region west of the Mississippi river; esp., that part which is north of the Indian Territory, New Mexico, etc. Usually with the definite article.
  • noun according to the notation of the mariner's compass, that point which lies 111/4° to the north or south, respectively, of the point due west.
  • noun that point which lies 221/2° to the north or south of west, or halfway between west and northwest or southwest, respectively. See Illust. of Compass.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun One of the four principal compass points, specifically 270°, conventionally directed to the left on maps; the direction of the setting sun at an equinox.
  • adjective Situated or lying in or toward the west; westward.
  • adjective meteorology Of wind: from the west.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to the west; western.
  • adjective From the West; occidental.
  • adverb Towards the west; westwards.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the region of the United States lying to the west of the Mississippi River
  • noun the direction corresponding to the westward cardinal compass point


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English; see wes-pero- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English west, from Proto-Germanic *westan. Compare West Frisian and Dutch west(en), German West(en), Danish vest.


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  • People could watch West German TV and had seen the Polish Solidarity movement triumph in a historic poll in June, and reformist Communist leaders in Budapest tear down part of the Iron Curtain, allowing East Germans to escape to the west.

    Lapham's Quarterly: 1989: A Slip of the Tongue on the Night the Berlin Wall Fell 2009

  • The West has already laid gas and oil pipelines from Azerbaijan through Georgia and then on to Turkey and the west.

    Obama and the denial of genocide 2009

  • By the time it was over, the farmland of West Quincy and several neighboring towns was under 15 feet of water for six miles to the west.

    Only Sandbags, Sweat Hold Back the River 2008

  • Bangladesh borders on the Bay of Bengal in the south; on the Indian states of West Bengal in the west and north, Assam and Meghalaya in the northeast, and Tripura and Mizoram in the east; and on Myanmar in the southeast.

    Bangladesh The World Factbook 2008

  • Sacramento Vs Indy during summer: Sacramento uniquely has (Vs Indy): Mountain ranges to the West and East, the eastern ones high mountains, relatively cold rivers running through / along it, a major marsh to the west and others a few miles to the south, low RH during summer, both (land modified) sea breezes and mountain breezes, many inversions, lots of dust.

    Unthreaded #7 « Climate Audit 2007

  • For instance, the implementation of "Go West" policy in China has resulted in some customers moving to the west.

    DHL: The Long Time China PlayerDHL: The Long-Time China Player 2006

  • In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I was invited to have a complimentary meal at West and that yes, that fact did encourage me to drive, er, west.

    Tuna Toast Tokyoastrogirl 2006

  • In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I was invited to have a complimentary meal at West and that yes, that fact did encourage me to drive, er, west.

    Archive 2006-07-01 Tokyoastrogirl 2006

  • I smiled, then stepped out through the doors, back into the dry heat of a West Tejas evening, except that the sun hadn't quite set, hanging low in the west.

    Flash ModesittJr_LE 2004

  • West wing of central room 5 seen from the west, behind it room 6.

    Interactive Dig Sagalassos - Upper Agora Report 4 2003


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  • This always bugged me.

    November 29, 2008

  • I must admit: I'd never thought about it before.

    But now it will bug me. Thanks. ;-)

    December 1, 2008

  • It makes perfect sense if you live in Europe or Asia.

    December 2, 2008

  • Sure. But I don't.

    December 2, 2008

  • Well, most people do live in Europe or Asia.

    December 2, 2008

  • Okay, but I don't. Hence the cartoon being funny.

    December 2, 2008

  • I don't live in Europe (more's the pity) or Asia and I don't find it funny in a comic way. Various cultures have their points of reference. The 'Wild West' makes sense in the US context and only that.

    In one job I had to do some translations of documents that included maps. There was an island called Pulu Atas in Malay, which roughly equates to Above Island. It had been rendered as South Island by one of my predecessors, and indeed it was the southernmost island of the atoll. The Malay name derived from the local seafaring expression atas angin, above the wind, ie. upwind. Island Above The Wind made sense to locals, but not to cartographers and translators from far away who didn't really get it. South Island on the other hand reflected their own point of reference. At the time I was there, about 20 per cent of Islanders had never been off the atoll. They had some concept of compass directions, because it is easy enough to point a certain way and say, 'that's the direction white people call west', but it was pretty much an empty shell for them.

    December 2, 2008

  • Well, it made *me* smile!

    See also Midwest.

    December 2, 2008

  • It's all relative, after all. A friend of mine who (at the time) lived in Philadelphia would jokingly refer to anywhere west of that city as "out by you," even though I only lived a few hours west of it, in Central PA. As in: "Columbus, Ohio--that's out by you, right?" ;-)

    December 2, 2008

  • "West town" in UK place names often becomes Weston, eg Allweston, Dorset.

    April 4, 2012