General English

  • adjective relating to the east
  • noun the countries in the eastern part of the world, e.g. china


  • adjective referring to areas or regions lying in the east
  • adverb towards the east
  • noun a compass point on the mariner’s compass 90° clockwise from due north and directly opposite west
  • noun the direction in which the earth rotates, the direction of the rising sun


  • noun one of the four main points of the compass, corresponding to a bearing of 90 degrees or 1600 mils
  • noun an area to the east of your location
  • noun the eastern part of a country


  • noun one of the points of the compass, the direction of the rising sun

Origin & History of “east”

Etymologically, east is the point of the compass at which the sun rises (and hence is a parallel formation to orient, which comes from a Latin word originally meaning ‘rising’). It goes back to an Indo-European base *aus-, source of a range of terms meaning not only ‘east’ but also ‘dawn’; Latin aurora, for instance, and Greek aúōs, had both senses. Its Germanic descendant, *austo-, produced German ost, Dutch oosten, Swedish öster, and English east (which was subsequently borrowed by French as est). It was also the source of *Austron, the name of a goddess of the prehistoric Germanic peoples, originally the dawn-goddess, whose festival occurred in spring. In Old English her name was Ēastre, which is generally taken to be the ultimate source of English Easter (German Ostern ‘Easter’ has a parallel origin).