Definition of alienate in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Cause (someone) to feel isolated or estranged.

    ‘an urban environment that would alienate its inhabitants’
    • ‘The roots of this tragic blindness must lie in capitalism's ability to alienate people from their environment for if people knew what they were doing to the land, they would change their ways.’
    • ‘It's here where Oldham's audience is forced to decide whether or not this whole project is just an elaborate joke to frustrate and alienate his fans.’
    • ‘Rather, it is a need that grows from the inside, a need to overcome the chasm that divides and alienates us from the spiritual source of our existence and to bring forth the good that is within us.’
    • ‘Now we don't know what to do unless we are alienated from speech, from our environment, from our locality.’
    • ‘It includes changing the climate of an institution from one that is hostile and alienating for members of particular groups to one that is sensitive and welcoming.’
    • ‘I felt like the educational process was alienating me from my own child and not letting me participate.’
    • ‘Both characters feel alienated by their environment, which leads them to plough a gentle furrow of despair.’
    • ‘And that's the trick with a long-running show, to keep it fresh without alienating longtime viewers.’
    • ‘Language and imagination, far from alienating us from nature, are our most powerful and natural tools for re-engaging with it.’
    • ‘When we are alienated or frustrated, we will never forget somebody's generous help.’
    • ‘They used images of the modern city to convey a hostile, alienating world, with distorted figures and colors.’
    • ‘No matter how much you talk about global effects or global capitalism, some people are very alienated and isolated in this world.’
    • ‘Deborah thinks about everything in material terms, which has alienated her from the other members of her family.’
    • ‘What we have are two things going on: One, a society in which our children are alienated and isolated.’
    • ‘Aside from stretching the limits of plausibility, these actions only serve to frustrate us and alienate us from the characters.’
    • ‘These people were alienated from the society they wished to deliver from exploitation.’
    estrange, turn away, set apart, drive apart, isolate, detach, distance, put at a distance
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    1. 1.1 Cause (someone) to become unsympathetic or hostile.
      ‘the association does not wish to alienate its members’
      • ‘Orchin's difficulty was that to make the association more attractive to members he risked alienating the patrons who subsidized its activities.’
      • ‘She complied with his last wish, but in turn alienated her future husband.’
      • ‘After all, would it make sense - basic commercial sense - for a channel to alienate its main audience by taking a hostile attitude at a time of national crisis?’
      • ‘I choose to be loyal to my values and to alienate my team members.’
      • ‘Instead of broadening its membership, it is alienating people.’
      • ‘The experience will drive him away from his deaf parents and alienate him from an unsympathetic hearing world’
      • ‘In this, as in other matters, he has been going out of his way not to alienate the party, members of which hold key posts in his cabinet.’
      • ‘The danger, of course, is that this unfamiliar discourse can alienate the candidate from other members of the search committee.’
      • ‘And this seems to be their problem; it doesn't know how to attract young people without alienating the older members.’
      • ‘The problem with this tactic, however, is that it frustrates and alienates your family and friends.’
      • ‘It is typical of Keegan not to wish to alienate people who are hoping to arrange an ecologically sound disposal of their mortal remains upon their own flowerbeds.’
      • ‘Ariyarathne attempts to demonstrate that the missionary education alienated children from their parents and other family members.’
      • ‘On the other hand, their campaign clearly set back the cause by antagonizing many non-militant women and by alienating pro-suffrage members of Parliament.’
      • ‘He has continually ‘put himself about’ in a way which is bound to alienate colleagues and antagonise the general public.’
      • ‘Not because people haven't been tempted, but because alienating millions of people was not just risky, but stupid.’
      • ‘Added to this is the failure of the party to seriously address these issues, which has alienated many ordinary party members.’
      • ‘It alienates our friends, who fear an insurgent victory, and tempts undecideds to join the anti-government ranks.’
      • ‘I didn't exercise that option, because I didn't want to alienate my fellow directors and counselors by appearing insubordinate.’
      • ‘The other aspect of the Government's difficulties at the moment is the way those members are progressively alienating ordinary New Zealanders.’
      • ‘There are times when there is cause to be frustrated with a particular official, but if a league alienates him with punishment, he'll simply go work in another conference.’
      dissatisfied, disgruntled, discontented, malcontent, restless, frustrated, fed up
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  • 2Law
    Transfer ownership of (property rights) to another person or group.

    • ‘The land would then be alienated to the private sector by tender.’
    • ‘Consequently, unless the plaintiff alienated his ownership, he has been the owner of the case since it came into being.’
    • ‘Once the state has alienated any parcel of land, it can never re-establish its original claim.’
    • ‘Ever since the 1290 statute it has been a principle of the law that generally an estate owner should have a free and unfettered power to alienate his property.’
    • ‘The ultimate purpose of the acquisitions is to enable the Territory to validly alienate Crown land in the manner that is stated in the notices of proposed acquisition.’
    transfer, convey, pass on, hand over, devolve
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  • alienate someone's affections

    • Induce someone to transfer their affection from a person (such as a spouse) with legal rights or claims on them.

      • ‘The waif seemed eager to get inside, but I didn't want to alienate her affections if she had a home.’
      • ‘The young man, in his efforts to extricate the young woman from her problems, manages to alienate her affections while arousing the enmity of her powerful protector.’
      • ‘That modest discovery, with the consequent madness of incessant composition, alienated my affections from the hospital.’
      • ‘Dr. Chapin never attempted in any way to alienate my affections from father.’
      • ‘Austerity and sternness will alienate his affections, and severe words will sting him to the quick.’


Early 16th century: from Latin alienat- ‘estranged’, from the verb alienare, from alienus ‘of another’ (see alien).