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

  • n. The direction along a meridian 90° clockwise from east; the direction to the right of sunrise.
  • n. The cardinal point on the mariner's compass 180° clockwise from due north and directly opposite north.
  • n. An area or region lying in the south.
  • n. The southern part of the earth.
  • n. The southern part of a region or country.
  • n. The southern part of the United States, especially the states that fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
  • adj. To, toward, of, facing, or in the south.
  • adj. Originating in or coming from the south: a hot south wind.
  • adv. In, from, or toward the south.
  • adv. Slang Into a worse or inferior position, as of decreased value: a stock that went south shortly after he bought it.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One of the four major compass points, specifically 180°, directed toward the South Pole, and conventionally downwards on a map.
  • adj. Toward the south; southward.
  • adj. Of wind, from the south.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to the south; southern.
  • adj. Pertaining to the part of a corridor used by southbound traffic.
  • adv. Toward the south; southward.
  • adv. Downward.
  • adv. In an adverse direction or trend.
  • adv. Of wind, from the south.
  • v. To turn or move toward the south; to veer toward the south.
  • v. To come to the meridian; to cross the north and south line.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Lying toward the south; situated at the south, or in a southern direction from the point of observation or reckoning; proceeding toward the south, or coming from the south; blowing from the south; southern.
  • adv. Toward the south; southward.
  • adv. From the south.
  • n. That one of the four cardinal points directly opposite to the north; the region or direction to the right or direction to the right of a person who faces the east.
  • n. A country, region, or place situated farther to the south than another; the southern section of a country.
  • n. Specifically: That part of the United States which is south of Mason and Dixon's line. See under Line.
  • n. The wind from the south.
  • intransitive v. To turn or move toward the south; to veer toward the south.
  • intransitive v. To come to the meridian; to cross the north and south line; -- said chiefly of the moon.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That one of the four cardinal points of the compass which is directly opposite to the north, and is on the left when one faces in the direction of the setting sun (west). Abbreviated S.
  • n. The region, tract, country, or locality lying opposite to the north, or lying toward the south pole from some other region; in the broadest and most general sense, in the northern hemisphere, the tropics or subtropical regions; in Europe, the Mediterranean region, often with reference to the African or Asiatic coast.
  • n. Specifically In United States history and politics, the Southern States (which see, under state).
  • n. The wind that blows from the south.
  • n. Eccles., the side of a church that is on the right hand of one who faces the altar or high altar. See east, 1, and epistle.
  • Being in the south; situated in the south, or in a southern direction from the point of observation; lying toward the south; pertaining to the south; proceeding from the south.
  • Eccles., situated at or near that side of a church which is to the right of one facing the altar or high altar.
  • Toward, to, or at the south; of winds, from the south.
  • To move or veer toward the south.
  • In astronomy, to cross the meridian of a place: as, the moon souths at nine.

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

  • n. the cardinal compass point that is at 180 degrees
  • n. the southern states that seceded from the United States in 1861
  • adj. situated in or facing or moving toward or coming from the south
  • adv. in a southern direction
  • n. the region of the United States lying to the south of the Mason-Dixon line
  • n. the direction corresponding to the southward cardinal compass point
  • n. a location in the southern part of a country, region, or city


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

Middle English, from Old English sūth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old English sūþ, from Proto-Germanic *sunþaz. Compare West Frisian súd, Dutch zuid, German Süd, Danish syd.



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  • I hadn't heard it used in that sense either, c_b, until I read the most recent postings here. Then it seemed to suddenly pop up in several articles I read immediately after. Maybe it was because it had been "flagged" in my mind. :-)

    September 9, 2008

  • I appreciate you all taking the time to cite usages. :) (Bilby, thanks for the URL especially.) I honestly don't think I've ever heard the word used this way in the United States. When Americans say "South" (with a capital S), even if we're using it as a pejorative, we're usually talking about the U.S. South (i.e. the former Confederacy). Maybe I missed something, but that's a new-to-me usage. Thanks again to my fellow wordie-denizens for teaching me something new.

    September 9, 2008

  • I think I first heard "South" used in the sense of the poorer countries of the world sometime in the late 80s, when the Cold War was fading and "East–West" issues were becoming less important than "North–South" issues. Perhaps as the "Second World" of industrialized ideologically based command economies disappeared, it made less sense to talk about the "Third World" of non-industrialized, largely authoritarian clan- or family-based economies.

    September 9, 2008

  • South of the world, as a synonym for underdeveloped countries, was a common usage at least in Italy when I was in primary school (I was born in 1980). I can't remember if I ever heard it afterwards.

    September 9, 2008

  • c_b, I don't know where South with that meaning came from, although it's fairly obvious that it refers to developing countries being largely in the southern hemisphere compared to industrialised countries being mostly in the north. There used to be a magazine about international development titled South though I'm not sure it's still around. The South Centre certainly is:

    "The South Centre (the Centre) is an intergovernmental organization of developing countries established by an Intergovernmental Agreement (Treaty) which came into force on 31 July 1995 with its headquarters in Geneva.

    The South Centre has grown out of the work and experience of the South Commission and its follow-up mechanism, and from recognition of the need for enhanced South-South co-operation. The Report of the South Commission -- emphasized that the South is not well organized at the global level and has thus not been effective in mobilizing its considerable combined expertise and experience, nor its bargaining power.

    The South Centre is therefore intended to meet the need for analysis of development problems and experience, as well as to provide intellectual and policy support required by developing countries for collective and individual action, particularly in the international arena."


    September 9, 2008

  • Bilby, when examining the Wordnet page for South, we determine that the U.S. sense of South, that being the southern part of the country, has the highest frequency count. This is due to the frequency found in tagged texts, which simply means that word came up the most often.

    The two you dislike, which don't occur in the WordNet entry linked above, make some sense, "a demarcated area of the Earth" is for when "south" is used to refer to the Southern Hemisphere. Similarly, "a point or extent in space" makes sense geometrically, we can talk about the southern part of a shape in several dimensions. Without more information from WordNet, I can't narrow it down further.

    Finally, WordNet is not a dictionary, it is a "lexical database".

    August 22, 2008

  • Bizarre! I never heard that usage. Where have you seen/heard it?

    August 21, 2008

  • I also note that WeirdNet didn't include a usage of South I have heard a few times, that is as a term of reference to the underdeveloped world.

    August 21, 2008

  • I would venture the guess that this particular dictionary was created by and perhaps mostly for Americans, and the usage in which they most often encounter the word in reading, etc. (especially when it's capitalized) is the region rather than the cardinal direction. Just sayin'.

    August 21, 2008

  • "a demarcated area of the Earth" and "a point or extent in space" do my head in. That's even before "the spatial relation between something and the course along which it points or moves". Or the USA-centric 'main' definition ... should dictionaries have to ape cultural myopia, real or perceived?

    As you say there are these ones: "situated in or oriented toward the southeast" ... 6 of them!

    August 21, 2008

  • I don't know, most of the WordNet defs tend to make a lot of sense. The southeast and southwest ones are kind of confusing, but the rest seem valid.

    August 21, 2008

  • One of the most ridiculous collections of WeirdNet defs I have yet seen.

    August 20, 2008

  • From Hardy's Plena Timoris:

    'The moon in its southing directly blent

    Its silver with their environment.'

    November 3, 2007