alien·​ate | \ ˈā-lē-ə-ˌnāt How to pronounce alienate (audio) , ˈāl-yə- \
alienated; alienating

Definition of alienate

transitive verb

1 : to cause to be estranged : to make unfriendly, hostile, or indifferent especially where attachment formerly existed He alienated most of his colleagues with his bad temper. Her position on this issue has alienated many former supporters.
2 : to convey or transfer (something, such as property or a right) usually by a specific act rather than the due course of law
3 : to cause to be withdrawn or diverted alienate capital from its natural channels

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Other Words from alienate

alienator \ ˈā-​lē-​ə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce alienator (audio) , ˈāl-​yə-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for alienate



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estrange, alienate, disaffect mean to cause one to break a bond of affection or loyalty. estrange implies the development of indifference or hostility with consequent separation or divorcement. his estranged wife alienate may or may not suggest separation but always implies loss of affection or interest. managed to alienate all his coworkers disaffect refers especially to those from whom loyalty is expected and stresses the effects (such as rebellion or discontent) of alienation without actual separation. troops disaffected by hunger

Examples of alienate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web City officials worried whether the governor’s actions might alienate and discourage cooperation in a conservative Orthodox community where some members look askance at dictums from secular governments. Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, "How a Feud Between Cuomo and de Blasio Led to a Chaotic Virus Crackdown," 12 Oct. 2020 Miranda July discusses her new movie, Kajillionaire, a quirky ode to the relationships that can shape us—and alienate us from the rest of the world. David Sims, The Atlantic, "‘Every Family Is Kind of Cultlike’," 28 Sep. 2020 The Conservative leadership is keen not to alienate either side in Washington ahead of November’s election. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "British Tories tell Biden to butt out of Brexit and Northern Ireland," 17 Sep. 2020 On the other hand, rushing a Supreme Court nomination in the heat of a presidential race could alienate other independent voters, analysts said. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Trump urges GOP to move 'without delay' as he ponders impact of Supreme Court on election," 19 Sep. 2020 His love, the purest impulse of his soul, can only further alienate and cause harm. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, "Marilynne Robinson’s Lonely Souls," 11 Sep. 2020 By clinging mainly to cities and coasts, Democrats not only alienate valuable voters, Mr. Tester warns, but also fail to grasp that many rural Americans care deeply about progressive issues such as affordable education and accessible health care. Emily Bobrow, WSJ, "Jon Tester Wants Democrats to Fight for Rural America," 11 Sep. 2020 Those stances could alienate the more conservative voters in the 5th District. Kaitlin Lange, The Indianapolis Star, "How Christina Hale attempts to win Republican voters using empathy," 28 Aug. 2020 But no business wants to alienate a huge section of its customers. Bill Carter For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Twitter lacks the guts to actually stop Trump's deception," 17 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alienate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of alienate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for alienate

borrowed from Latin aliēnātus, past participle of aliēnāre "to transfer (goods, property) to another, lose possession of, render hostile, estrange," verbal derivative of aliēnus "not one's own, of others, foreign, strange" — more at alien entry 1

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Time Traveler for alienate

Time Traveler

The first known use of alienate was in the 15th century

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Statistics for alienate

Last Updated

19 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alienate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for alienate


How to pronounce alienate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of alienate

: to make (someone) unfriendly : to cause (someone) to stop being friendly, helpful, etc., towards you
: to cause (someone) to feel that she or he no longer belongs in a particular group, society, etc.


alien·​ate | \ ˈā-lē-ə-ˌnāt How to pronounce alienate (audio) , ˈāl-yə- \
alienated; alienating

Kids Definition of alienate

: to cause (a person who used to be friendly or loyal) to become unfriendly or disloyal She alienated most of her friends with her bad temper.
alien·​ate | \ ˈā-lē-ə-ˌnāt, ˈāl-yə- How to pronounce alienate (audio) \
alienated; alienating

Medical Definition of alienate

: to make unfriendly, hostile, or indifferent where attachment formerly existed

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alien·​ate | \ ˈā-lē-ə-ˌnāt How to pronounce alienate (audio) \
alienated; alienating

Legal Definition of alienate

: to give away or sell (property or a property right) to another will not sell, transfer, assign, hypothecate or otherwise alienate any of his voting sharesStrickland v. Rahaim, 549 So. 2d 58 (1989) — compare devise

Other Words from alienate

alienation \ ˌā-​lē-​ə-​ˈnā-​shən, ˌāl-​yə-​ How to pronounce alienation (audio) \ noun

History and Etymology for alienate

Latin alienare, from alienus not one's own

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