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3 : to cause to be withdrawn or diverted alienate capital from its natural channels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 During the rule of the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, from 1876 to 1909, Christians felt alienated by pan-Islamist policies that pursued unity among Muslims globally. Ramazan Kılınç, The Conversation, "Christians have lived in Turkey for two millennia – but their future is uncertain," 21 Nov. 2019 However, Dan was part of our core alliance and to risk alienating him was to risk my allies and my game. Dalton Ross,, "Kellee Kim of Survivor speaks out on inappropriate touching incidents," 19 Nov. 2019 The move alienated Gage, who split from Stanton and Anthony to found her own, competing suffragist group. Susan Dominus, Smithsonian, "Women Scientists Were Written Out of History. It’s Margaret Rossiter’s Lifelong Mission to Fix That," 19 Sep. 2019 To alienate you from your grandchildren is heartless. Abigail Van Buren,, "Dear Abby: Religious man wonders if he should consider threesome offer," 28 Aug. 2019 Greenberg seems increasingly isolated, an aging gadfly whose moral rigidity and cynicism have alienated his colleagues. Rachel Poser, Harper's magazine, "Common Ground," 19 Aug. 2019 Shifting scarce resources into a new diversity effort, for example, can alienate faculty members and staff who run existing programs that have the same goal. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "A vaunted program for boosting the diversity of U.S. academic scientists is starting to spread," 24 July 2019 The fermented products industry leans liberal anyway, Halupka said, so taking a political stance isn’t as likely to alienate their customers. Anna Claire Vollers |,, "After the abortion ban and #BoycottAlabama, small businesses struggle to find ‘a new normal’," 17 July 2019 In New Jersey, surcharges appear to have found a welcoming regulatory environment, especially as the state seeks to ensure its progressive climate policies don’t alienate businesses. Talia Buford, ProPublica, "The Obscure Charges That Utility Companies Add to Your Bills," 21 Oct. 2019

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

circa 1509, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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 circa 1509

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Statistics for alienate

Last Updated

25 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Alienate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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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Comments on alienate

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