Difference Between Asian and Oriental (With Table)

While referring to people from a certain region, continent or culture, we use different terms. But it is crucial to do the research before the usage of the word because some words may be derogatory, discriminative and offensive. The two common words to refer to eastern people and culture are Asian and Oriental.

Asian vs Oriental

The main difference between Asian and Oriental is that Asian is a word that can be used to refer to any object, thing, place, or people that belong from the Asian continent while Oriental is a word that can be used to refer to any object, thing, place or people that belong to the eastern regions.

Asian is a standard word and unconventional word. It does not hurt any religion or promote discrimination. It can be used in public speaking without the fear of being offensive. The word does not have any negative words and is a word better comparatively.

While Oriental is an archaic synonym of Asian. It promotes discrimination as the word has a Eurocentric origin. It has been prohibited from using in English and even in many other languages since It is offensive in nature. It is not only restricted to the people and culture of the continent of Asia but refers to the entire eastern region of the globe.

Comparison Table Between Asian and Oriental

Parameters of ComparisonAsianOriental
Meaning It is a word used to refer to the people of the continent of Asia It is a word used to refer to people of the east
BackgroundIt does not have a hurtful historical backgroundIt has a hurtful historical background
OffensiveIt is not considered offensive It is considered offensive
OriginAsian has an east of European origin Oriental has a Eurocentric origin
Better wordAsian is a better wordPolitically incorrect and outdated word

What is Asian?

Asian is referred to people of Asia. Asians can further be classified into other types depending upon the region from where they hail. They can be Northeast Asian, Central and Southern Asian, and Southeast Asian. Asian can include people from nationalities like Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans.

People from the West try to generalize Asian people with slanted eyes. Though people from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan do not have such eyes and hence the generalization is not correct. Asian people are also considered to have a wheatish skin tone. Some other generalized facial features are side protruding cheekbones, low nose bridge, and smaller eye corners.

In the 1980 Census, the first analysis on general Asians was marked. It had a group with the ancestors of Asian or Pacific Islander (API). Asians are considered as an ethnic group and not a race. Asians have a diverse range of cultures, languages, and beliefs. They could be monotheistic or polytheistic.

Americans considered Asians as people from the Pacific Islands and termed Asian and Pacific Islanders together. Later the two words were separated into ”Asian’ and ‘Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander”. Asian can be synonymous with various words but do not discriminate or hurt religious and cultural feelings.

What is Oriental?

Oriental is a traditional term used to refer to people of the Orient. Orient refers to the Eastern world, specifically the continent of Asia. Oriental is not implied to Arabs, Jews, Indians, or other South and West Asian inhabitants. It is also used to signify the inhabitants of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay as it lies in the east of the Uruguay River.

The Asian people consider Oriental as an offensive word and hence its use is discouraged. It has Eurocentric origin and Asians are from the east of the European countries. Though the word is not inherently negative it has been associated with a negative idea.

The word Orient is derived from the Latin word “oriens” which means east. Oriental is also used as an adjective and a noun and it promotes colonialism. The use as an adjective and a noun was first in the 15th century. The word gained prominence when western authors used it to refer to eastern people and their culture.

Oriental outdated designation for Southeast Asia. The ideas and philosophies of Oriental people were published in a book called Orientalism by Edward Said. A scholar of Oriental studies was called an Orientalist, in the 19th century. The antonym of Orient is Occidental.

Main Differences Between Asian and Oriental

  1. Asian refers to the people and culture of Asia while Oriental refers to the people and culture of the east.
  2. Asian is a modern and accepted term while Oriental is an outdated and unacceptable term.
  3. Asians are east of the European countries while Oriental have a Eurocentric origin.
  4. Asian is not an offensive word and politically correct while Oriental is an offensive word and politically incorrect.
  5. Asian is considered as a national demonym while Oriental is not considered as any national demonym.


Both the words have no geographical difference and refer to the eastern continent especially Asia. Both the words refer to similar cultures and groups of people. But Asian is a standard and globally accepted word while Oriental is a traditional word that is not accepted globally or politically. Asians do not discriminate or hurt any sensitive feelings while Oriental is quite offensive and can hurt the majority.

The difference in both the words is due to various factors like origin, background, and cultural meaning. Many languages have banished the use of Oriental due to its roots. The roots are offensive since they have originated from Eurocentric ideas. It was not inherently negative but has reached a negative status due to its illegitimate use.

Words that are used to refer to people or cultures of other regions have the risk of being discriminative and hurtful in sense. They can promote offensive or derogatory ideas. So, the sentence formation with the apt word usage is essential to not hurt the sentiment or be disrespectful towards others.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=lang_en&id=7zngCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=asian+and+oriental&ots=imrgw7f1H2&sig=nNNKWJpLUaTVBWi39F9fo5VuGoE
  2. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9780203004388/oriental-enlightenment-clarke

About the Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at Ask Any Difference is a team of experts in the field of "Difference Between" topics and led by Sandeep Bhandari, Piyush Yadav and Chara Yadav. Trusted by over 1.5 million readers worldwide
PinterestLinkedIn, Facebook

2D vs 3D x
2D vs 3D