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3 : to cause to be withdrawn or diverted alienate capital from its natural channels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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Choose the Right Synonym for alienate

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 Biden’s die-hard base of supporters but alienate the rest of the country. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "What America Needs Now Is a President Who Will Go Nuclear on the Justice Department," 17 Dec. 2020 McAuliffe largely governed as a centrist and some of his business-friendly policies and actions as governor may alienate the party's progressive wing. Alan Suderman, Star Tribune, "Virginia's McAuliffe to make gubernatorial bid official," 8 Dec. 2020 Producers and consumers have adjusted for the 25% duty on steel imports and the 10% duty on aluminum, and removing them may alienate Midwesterners who helped elect Biden. Kevin Miller And Melinda Grenier, oregonlive, "Here are the business sectors that will thrive, dive under Biden administration," 15 Nov. 2020 Even the terminology used by researchers and reporters can alienate these ginseng hunters. Emily Cataneo/undark, Popular Science, "Appalachia’s ginseng goldmine may not last much longer," 9 Nov. 2020 Conservatives have to appeal to gun owners and evangelicals to win the primary, but take care not to alienate socially moderate suburban voters in the process. Alex Castellanos, WSJ, "There’s More to Politics Than Policy," 10 Dec. 2020 That has left governors and mayors racing to sort through new restrictions while trying not to alienate their constituents. Michael D. Shear, New York Times, "Pandemic Reaches Grim Milestone as Biden Moves to Take Charge," 9 Nov. 2020 Settlements Something that would certainly alienate even moderate Democrats would be settlement expansion, especially building outside the major settlement blocs. Dina Kraft, The Christian Science Monitor, "Trump ‘bromance’ broke Israel’s bipartisan rule. Will Netanyahu pay?," 20 Nov. 2020 The Democratic Party can't afford to alienate the people inspired by Sanders and the Squad. Michelle Goldberg, Star Tribune, "Leftists and moderates, stop fighting. You need one another.," 18 Nov. 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

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alienate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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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 alienate (audio) \ noun

History and Etymology for alienate

Latin alienare, from alienus not one's own

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