"Back east"

It’s a term I hear sometimes on American telly. Is it only used by Easterners who have moved out west or is it a general term for the east?

It’s pretty general in both Canada and the US.

Out West,
Down South,
Back East and
Up North.

Two make sense, two are (I believe) a remnant of the general movement across the country

Speaking only for myself, and having never lived in the Eastern U.S., I use the term '“back east” if I’m referring to the northeastern section of the country. I’m guessing I picked it up from books, movies, tv, etc.

I have only ever lived in CA and I use the term “back east” the same way foxymoron does.

Back east means the eastern mid and northern coastal states. Settlers referred to those states as back east and it’s stuck. Florida wouldn’t be part of this grouping.

I’d say two make sense, two are the product of an arbitrary cartographic convention. :wink:

IME, it refers to all of the original thirteen Atlantic coast colonies, not just the northeast.

I grew up in California; my parents moved there from Illinois in the 1940’s. “Back East” referred to the places in the midwest where extended family lived; my father had brothers in Michigan and Ohio; my mother had a brother in either Kansas or Missouri and a sister in Iowa. It seemed to be a sort of nebulous area that I didn’t understand until I learned US geography! :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t think that someone from South Carolina would consider themselves “back east.” In fact, they might take offense to it.

Me too. It’s just an idiom left over from the westward expansion.

Oddly enough, “way down East” (as in the old stage mellerdrammer and Lillian Gish movie) refers to Maine, which is way up North.

I’ve lived in California for the past 16-some years, but grew up, er, back east. I use the term to mean anywhere on the east coast, but I’m usually talking about the Mid-Atlantic area where I grew up and where my family still is.


I did a double-take and had to see if I was about to bump a zombie thread! Hi Eve, good to see you around!

I’ve lived on the East Coast my whole life, and it’s not a term I’ve ever heard anyone here use.

back east to me is northeast, down south is south east, out west is colorado to the left coast and up north is where I am, but thats just me

Lifelong West Coaster and I hear it all the time. I sometimes use it, but it irritates me. I’m starting a one-man movement by using “back West” and “out East.”

“Down East” is the vernacular for the East coast, from an Ontario perspective.

Well, I don’t think anyone thinks of themselves or their homes as being “back” anywhere. I mean, of course. They’re there. Just as Europeans don’t think of the living, present cultures around them as “the old country.”

But I have, for example, heard people speak of “back in Georgia”–the state their grandparents had moved away from.

Back East = Jersey Shore, Queens, Piscataway…

I think the objection would be over the “east” part rather than the “back” part. I would think that South Carolinians identify with the South moreso than the East.

I tend to use it for anything east of the Rockies. When I think about it, though, I wouldn’t use it for the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, or Texas. I’m an Oregonian of Back Eastern extraction, for what it’s worth.

They probably would. However, I would still probably refer to them as such :wink: