Definition of alienation in English:



  • 1The state or experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved.

    ‘unemployment may generate a sense of political alienation’
    • ‘This goes together with the complete absence of any sense of distance or alienation from the government they elected.’
    • ‘I think your analysis about the disconnection and alienation from communities and the consequences is spot on.’
    • ‘The concept of the actor observing himself and experiencing alienation from the self is evident throughout the videotape.’
    • ‘This movie lacked the alienation and angst of the first.’
    • ‘Now think of some possible ways to link being gay, engaging in risk behaviors, experiencing hostility and alienation.’
    • ‘From a more personal experience, I experienced alienation while visiting these clubs.’
    • ‘Chan says the situations in the novel genuinely reflect his experience, particularly the feeling of alienation that his hero experiences daily.’
    • ‘That's why it has excited our culture beyond any reasonable expectation: It helps to heal our alienation from our own experience.’
    • ‘We often felt, then, a profound sense of alienation from American culture and political life.’
    • ‘Perhaps for all of them, the experience of exile led to a sense of alienation from their homeland, and to a growing feeling of pessimism about the prospects for change there.’
    • ‘A culture's excitement about the web is directly proportional to that culture's alienation from its everyday experience.’
    • ‘This implies first, that women must begin to overcome the alienation from, and learn again to be one with their bodies.’
    • ‘Not the least of her problems is her painful sense of alienation from life - an alienation, she realizes, that neither wild nor domestic animals seem to feel.’
    • ‘They recounted years of frustration and alienation from being ignored despite worry, illness and death.’
    • ‘Alice experiences alienation and fear for herself and her family, all the while keeping a personal journal including the daily headlines.’
    • ‘Walden, as a sign of our exile from nature, complements what is considered to be a modern alienation from the sacred as well.’
    • ‘This situation of alienation is made worse by the ‘voucher system’ which applies to all refugees who, having no friends or relatives, are compelled to accept public housing.’
    • ‘These two feed on each other, the recollections of what is lost and the alienation from what is found.’
    • ‘Like most kids, I had my own experience of alienation, but the urge to merge with the crowd was stronger than any sympathy I might have shared for another outcast.’
    isolation, detachment, estrangement, distance, separation, severance, parting, division, divorce, cutting off, turning away, withdrawal
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Loss or lack of sympathy; estrangement.
      ‘public alienation from bureaucracy’
      • ‘In those places, what is needed least of all is any sense of alienation from the political system.’
      • ‘It has meaning for us too: issues of law and order, immigration, alienation from mainstream politics and the extremity of the challenge for the left are just as true here as there.’
      • ‘The relationship between fan and idol suffers from a tragic alienation or lack of consummation.’
      • ‘Social inequality has grown and alienation from the political establishment is widespread.’
      • ‘But as in 2001, if anything these grim statistics underestimate the scale of public alienation from the political class.’
      • ‘The result is deep-going alienation from the political process.’
      • ‘There is a deep degree of social alienation from the whole political process.’
      • ‘Instead, it is defined by its disconnection and alienation from party matters.’
      • ‘The third party was able to capitalise on the alienation from both major parties to significantly boost its vote and more than double its seats.’
      • ‘Sundquist believes Chesnutt's subtle focus on his African roots is meant to highlight his sense of difference and alienation from the mainstream.’
      • ‘Government defeats in high-profile referendums on the Nice treaty and abortion have highlighted the political establishment's alienation from the electorate.’
      • ‘The reasons for the alienation from the Democratic Party are not hard to find.’
      • ‘Achebe and Ellison have been among the most eloquent spokesmen for the alienation of the modern black person.’
      • ‘But, if anyone doubts the growing sense of popular alienation from the great European project, they should have been paying closer attention to events in Dublin in the last few days.’
      • ‘The turnout at the polls is expected to fall to an unprecedented low, expressing widespread alienation from the political process.’
      • ‘He also identified a sense of alienation from the political process, rather than apathy; a feeling of disengagement more likely to be found in areas of high deprivation.’
      • ‘He is worried about hubris, overstretch, a too-great reliance on military force, the alienation and anger of foreigners.’
      • ‘While the movement may no longer be so visible, there is no diminution of that original sense of alienation from India.’
      • ‘In the last general election alienation from the establishment political parties led to a voter strike. The result was the lowest turnout since universal suffrage was introduced.’
      • ‘Mass alienation from the political system is reflected in the dismal turnout at the polls - an estimated 38 or 39 percent, the second lowest in history.’
    2. 1.2(in Marxist theory) a condition of workers in a capitalist economy, resulting from a lack of identity with the products of their labor and a sense of being controlled or exploited.
      • ‘But the rhetoric of Marxist exploitation and alienation does not speak to the needs of non-labourers, and may indeed oppose them.’
      • ‘Secondly, Marx was opposed to the state and figured that once capitalist relations of alienation were overthrown, there would be no need for a state any longer.’
      • ‘The heart of the dialectic lies in Hegel's theory of alienation.’
      • ‘On thing Marx is known for is his theory of worker alienation.’
      • ‘Each chapter takes a detailed and wide-ranging look at aspects of Marxist theory such as alienation, oppression, the family and class struggle.’
    3. 1.3Psychiatry
      A state of depersonalization or loss of identity in which the self seems unreal, thought to be caused by difficulties in relating to society and the resulting prolonged inhibition of emotion.
      • ‘The teacher's certainty about his role, largely the result of alienation, asserts hierarchy.’
      • ‘The result is alienation, depersonalization, and degradation of the human purpose.’
      • ‘Amotivation represents the lowest possible level of self-determination, as it implies a loss of personal control and alienation akin to learned helplessness.’
      • ‘More recently, Seeman suggested that normlessness and meaninglessness are manifestations of anomie rather than of alienation.’
      • ‘In other words, they try to keep their addiction secret and suffer low self esteem and alienation as a result.’
    4. 1.4An effect, sought by some dramatists, whereby the audience remains objective and does not identify with the actors.
      • ‘In Henry V, the character of the Chorus serves as much to establish an effect of alienation as to plunge the audience into the fiction.’
      • ‘The two works amply demonstrate ways in which the separation of voice and image can be used by a director to create alienation in the audience and to shift the balance of power between characters on screen.’
      • ‘As the process is reflected upon, an effect of Brechtian alienation occurs, and the naturalization of genre is dismantled.’
      • ‘This was the theory of alienation whereby the audience, already familiar with the story line, does not get caught up with the narrative.’
      • ‘And, through that shock or that alienation effect, you're induced to rethink certain conditions.’
    5. 1.5Law
      The transfer of the ownership of property rights.
      • ‘I am not satisfied that an alienation or transfer of property, in and of itself, is a sufficient basis on which to imply a trust of that property.’
      • ‘I think this Court has said on a couple of occasions that alienation is critical to ownership.’
      • ‘First used to indicate the process of alienation of Church property to the state, it soon came to be applied to the loss of temporal power by the Church.’
      • ‘Another example of alienation arises when one joint tenant charges his interest in the property.’
      • ‘The covenant is concerned with alienation of the property.’


Late Middle English: from Latin alienatio(n-), from the verb alienare estrange from alienus (see alien). The term alienation effect (1940s) is a translation of German Verfremdungseffekt.