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3 : to cause to be withdrawn or diverted alienate capital from its natural channels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 alienate (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 Imposing economic trade walls or making idle political threats may backfire and further alienate Russia. Ken Silverstein, Forbes, 15 Sep. 2021 But Bill’s going to double down on that sadness and alienate Willie, the one person who is truly there for him. Kimberly Potts, Vulture, 5 Sep. 2021 Along with tone, Psaki explains, the president is focused on eliminating bureaucratic jargon that might confuse or alienate the public. Lizzie Widdicombe, Vogue, 9 Aug. 2021 This framing hinges on the idea that online life is full of mediations, which resemble a fairy tale’s enchantments, and which alienate users from themselves and from one another. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 16 July 2021 So as not to alienate a Quad member and key partner in the Indian Ocean and Asian subcontinent. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Sep. 2021 Today, the Taliban will depend on foreign donor assistance to run the country, and may have a motive not to alienate the international community., 24 Aug. 2021 The Dolphins would not want to alienate a large portion of the fan base that may not want to see the team pursue a player with this troubling cloud over him. David Furones,, 21 Sep. 2021 But Ramirez doesn’t think that will happen because the candidates don’t want to alienate any Republicans from voting to recall Newsom. Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Aug. 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alienate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for alienate



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.


transitive verb
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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transitive verb
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 alienate (audio) \ noun

History and Etymology for alienate

Latin alienare, from alienus not one's own

More from Merriam-Webster on alienate

Nglish: Translation of alienate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alienate for Arabic Speakers


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