Alienation – Definition & Meaning

Alienation is a term that is often used to describe a feeling of disconnection or separation from others or from society as a whole. It can refer to a range of experiences, from feeling isolated and lonely to feeling estranged from one’s own sense of identity or sense of purpose. In this article, we will explore the various definitions and meanings of alienation, as well as its origins and associations.


The term “alienation” has been used in a variety of different ways throughout history. One of the earliest definitions of alienation comes from the philosopher Hegel, who used it to describe a state of being in which an individual becomes disconnected from their own sense of self. According to Hegel, this disconnection can occur when an individual becomes too focused on external factors, such as social norms or expectations.
Another definition of alienation comes from the sociologist Marx, who used the term to describe a state of being in which an individual becomes disconnected from the products of their own labor. According to Marx, this disconnection can occur when an individual is forced to work in a system that is exploitative or oppressive.


The concept of alienation has its roots in ancient philosophy, but it was not until the 19th century that it became a major topic of study in sociology and psychology. The idea of alienation was particularly important to Marxist theory, which saw it as a central feature of capitalist societies.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, alienation is defined as “the state of being alienated from society or from oneself.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the state or experience of being isolated or estranged from others or from one’s own sense of identity.”


Alienation is often associated with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection. It can also be associated with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.


Some synonyms for alienation include estrangement, detachment, isolation, and disaffection.


Antonyms for alienation include connection, involvement, engagement, and integration.

The same root words

The root word of alienation is “alien,” which comes from the Latin word “alius,” meaning “other.” Other words that share this root include “alienate,” “alienist,” and “alienable.”

Example Sentences

  • She felt a deep sense of alienation from her peers at school.
  • The workers experienced a sense of alienation from the products of their labor.
  • His depression was exacerbated by feelings of alienation from his family and friends.
  • The artist’s work explored themes of alienation and disconnection.
  • The political candidate spoke about the need to address the alienation felt by many members of society.
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