West is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography. West is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of east and is perpendicular to north and south.
- Etymology 1
- Navigation 2
- Cultural 3
- Symbolic meanings 4
- References 5
- External links 6
The word "West" is a Germanic word passed into some Romance languages (ouest in French, ovest in Italian). As is apparent in the Gothic term vasi (Visigoths), it stems from the same Sanskrit root vas-ati (night) that gave vesper (evening) in Latin.
Moving continuously west is following a circle of latitude.
"The West" often refers to Western civilization, or to nations in Western Europe and the Americas. During the Cold War "the West" was often used to refer to the NATO camp as opposed to the Warsaw Pact and non-aligned nations. The expression survives, with an increasingly ambiguous meaning.
In Chinese Buddhism, the West represents movement toward the Buddha or enlightenment (see Journey to the West). The ancient Aztecs believed that the West was the realm of the great goddess of water, mist, and maize. In Ancient Egypt, the West was considered to be the portal to the netherworld, and is the cardinal direction regarded in connection with death, though not always with a negative connotation. Ancient Egyptians also believed that the Goddess Amunet was a personification of the West. The Celts believed that beyond the western sea off the edges of all maps lay the Otherworld, or Afterlife.