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Suppose, I'm considering a trip from A to B and then from B back to A. The latter probably should be called a "return trip" and the whole journey, I guess, is a "round trip". But how does one call the AB leg? Is it an outbound trip? Or onward? Or something else?

In other words, what is X in "A round trip consists of X and return trips"?

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    It's the return trip, not the "back" trip. We rarely need to explicitly identify the outward journey as such, but if we do it's usually either that or the outbound trip. Jun 7, 2016 at 12:11
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    In British and Australian English, "return trip" can mean "round trip", and you can buy a "return ticket" for the train/plane/ferry/bus that gets you there and back (as compared to a one-way ticket). I don't know if US English uses the term this way.
    – nnnnnn
    Jun 7, 2016 at 12:26
  • Then how do you call the return trip proper?
    – Serguei
    Jun 7, 2016 at 12:31
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    Sometimes "the return trip" does mean the B->A part of the trip - I think native Aus/Brit speakers can tell the difference from context. I usually call the B->A part "the trip back" or "the trip home" or "the trip back home" (all of which seem also to be used in the US, according to Google).
    – nnnnnn
    Jun 7, 2016 at 12:36
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    If you say "outbound and return" it is clear that return refers only to the second leg of the journey. If you said "a return trip" that would mean both legs. To refer specifically to the second leg on its own, you would say "homeward". Do not use "homebound" as this would cause confusion with "housebound".
    – JavaLatte
    Jun 7, 2016 at 17:14

3 Answers 3

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For your trip from A to B, the A -> B leg might be referred to as

outbound ( leg / trip )
going
outward (journey)

The B -> A (return) leg might be referred to as

inbound
coming
return (leg / trip)
home leg (if A is your home)
homeward

An "onward" journey implies you are at a transfer point and there is further travelling until you reach your final destination.

In AmE the A -> B -> A trip is referred to as a "roundtrip", in BrE it is simply referred to as a "return"

"Two roundtrip tickets to Boston, please."
"Two return tickets to Nottingham, please."

As a related but side note:

POSH = port "out", starboard "home"

the more comfortable side of the ship between England and India

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There is no casual AmE term for this. Outward or outbound sound like terms someone in the travel industry would use, but not in normal conversation.

The default assumption, if you do not specify "return", with a trip A->B is that you are going from A to B.

If you want to emphasize that you are going A->B without including the counterpart return trip B->A, the term one-way or one-way trip can be used.

what is X in "A round trip consists of X and return trips"?

The way to say it is "A round trip consists of both the trip to X and a return trip back from X."

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  • what about _technical _ conversation? Suppose, you are discussing with your NASA colleagues a flight to Mars. Would you use the words outward or outbound leg?
    – Serguei
    Jun 9, 2016 at 12:30
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In British English, it would be 'outward journey'.

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