alienist

noun
alien·​ist | \-nist \

Definition of alienist 

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What is the Connection Between alienist and Alien?

Alienist looks and sounds like it should mean "someone who studies aliens," and in fact alienist and alien are related - both are ultimately derived from the Latin word alius, meaning "other." In the case of alienist, the etymological trail leads from Latin to French, where the adjective aliene ("insane") gave rise to the noun alieniste, referring to a doctor who treats the insane. Alienist first appeared in print in English in the 19th century. It was preceded by the other alius descendants, alien (14th century) and alienate (used as a verb since the early 16th century). Alienist is much rarer than psychiatrist these days, but at one time it was the preferred term.

Examples of alienist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The most expensive show produced by TNT is based on Caleb Carr’s best-selling 1994 historical thriller about a psychiatrist (or alienist, as they were once called) in Gilded Age New York who tries to catch a serial killer. Gabe Cohn, New York Times, "What’s on TV Monday: ‘The Alienist’ and ‘Mosaic’," 22 Jan. 2018

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

First Known Use of alienist

1864, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for alienist

French aliéniste, from aliéné insane, from Latin alienatus, past participle of alienare to estrange, from alienus

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The first known use of alienist was in 1864

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More Definitions for alienist

alienist

noun
alien·​ist | \ˈā-lē-ə-nəst, ˈāl-yə- \

Medical Definition of alienist 

obsolete

: psychiatrist especially : one specializing in the legal aspects of psychiatry

alienist

noun
alien·​ist | \ˈā-lē-ə-nist, ˈāl-yə- \

Legal Definition of alienist 

: a psychiatrist who specializes in the legal aspects of psychiatry (as determining sanity or capacity to stand trial)

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