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Arrive vs. Depart: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 8, 2024
"Arrive" means reaching a destination, signifying the end of a journey, while "depart" means leaving a place, signifying the start of a journey.

Key Differences

Arrive conveys reaching a destination or a point in time, often marking the completion of a journey or movement towards a specific place. It signifies the end of travel. In contrast, depart implies the action of leaving a place or starting a journey. It represents the beginning of movement away from a point.
In the context of transportation, arrive is used to denote the moment when a vehicle or person reaches a particular station, airport, or location. For example, a train arriving at a station. On the other hand, depart is used to describe the act of a vehicle or person leaving a place, as in a flight departing from an airport.
In a metaphorical sense, arrive can mean reaching a state or achieving a goal, such as arriving at a decision or a significant point in life. Conversely, depart can metaphorically imply a departure from the norm, tradition, or expected path, as in departing from convention.
Arrive also has connotations of success or culmination, like arriving at a level of expertise or fame. In comparison, depart can indicate a change or a transition, suggesting a move away from a previous state or position, such as departing from a job or a phase of life.
In terms of usage, arrive often implies a sense of completion and arrival at a targeted point, whether physical or metaphorical. In contrast, depart suggests the initiation of a journey, a change, or moving away from a point, emphasizing the start of a new phase or travel.

Comparison Chart


Reaching a destination
Leaving a place


End of a journey, arrival at a point
Start of a journey, leaving a point

Metaphorical Use

Achieving goals, reaching a state
Changing paths, moving from a state


Completion, success
Initiation, transition

Common Usage

Used in travel, achievements
Used in travel, changes, and transitions

Arrive and Depart Definitions


Attain a goal or level.
He finally arrived at a solution for the problem.


Leave a place.
The plane departed from JFK Airport at dawn.


Appear or become available.
Spring arrives with a burst of colors.


Begin a journey.
They departed for their vacation early in the morning.


Reach a destination.
The train arrived at the station on time.


Deviate from a course.
The storyline departs from the traditional narrative.


Achieve success or recognition.
She arrived on the fashion scene with her unique designs.


Leave a job or position.
He departed the company after ten years of service.


Come to a particular point or state.
After much debate, they arrived at a consensus.


Cease to be present.
Summer departed, leaving behind cooler days.


To reach a destination.


To go away; leave
I depart for the islands at noon.


To come at length; take place
The day of reckoning has arrived.


To die.


Do "arrive" and "depart" only apply to people?

No, they can apply to objects, seasons, trends, and more.

Can "depart" be used in a metaphorical sense?

Yes, it can mean leaving a state, position, or departing from a norm.

Does "arrive" imply a final destination?

Often, but it can also mean reaching a stage or point in a process.

Can "depart" be used for temporary leave?

Yes, it can refer to any form of leaving, temporary or permanent.

Can "arrive" be used in non-physical contexts?

Yes, it's often used metaphorically to mean achieving a goal or state.

Is "depart" often used in travel?

Yes, especially in the context of flights, trains, and buses.

Is "arrive" always literal?

No, it can be used figuratively, such as arriving at a decision.

Does "depart" always imply a long journey?

No, it can refer to any act of leaving, regardless of the journey's length.

Is "arrive" a positive word?

Generally, it has positive connotations, often associated with achievement and success.

Can "arrive" refer to the arrival of non-tangible things?

Yes, like the arrival of an era, trend, or feeling.

Can "arrive" indicate a beginning?

It's more about reaching a point than beginning something new.

Are "arrive" and "depart" opposites?

In many contexts, especially travel, they are considered antonyms.

Can "depart" indicate a change in ideas?

Yes, it can imply a departure from usual ideas or methods.

Is "arrive" used in formal contexts?

Yes, it's appropriate in both formal and informal contexts.

Can "arrive" be used in historical contexts?

Yes, like arriving at a significant moment in history.

Does "depart" have a negative connotation?

Not necessarily, it's neutral, context dictates its emotional tone.

Does "depart" imply a return?

Not inherently, it simply means to leave.

Is "depart" used in legal or official documents?

Yes, it's often used in formal and legal contexts.

Can "depart" mean to die?

It can be used euphemistically to refer to death.

Can "arrive" suggest an unexpected occurrence?

Yes, it can be used for sudden or unexpected arrivals.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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