GC: n

S: (last access: 22nd April 2013); (last access: 1st September 2014).

N: 1. “transfer of ownership,” late 14c., from Old French alienacion and directly from Latin alienationem (nominative alienatio) “a transfer, surrender,” noun of action from past participle stem of alienare (see alienate). It also meant “loss or derangement of mental faculties, insanity” (late 15c.), hence alienist. Phrase alienation of affection as a U.S. legal term in divorce cases for “falling in love with someone else” dates to 1861.
2. alienation, in social sciences, the state of feeling estranged or separated from one’s milieu, work, products of work, or self. Despite its popularity in the analysis of contemporary life, the idea of alienation remains an ambiguous concept with elusive meanings, the following variants being most common: (1) powerlessness, the feeling that one’s destiny is not under one’s own control but is determined by external agents, fate, luck, or institutional arrangements, (2) meaninglessness, referring either to the lack of comprehensibility or consistent meaning in any domain of action (such as world affairs or interpersonal relations) or to a generalized sense of purposelessness in life, (3) normlessness, the lack of commitment to shared social conventions of behaviour (hence widespread deviance, distrust, unrestrained individual competition, and the like), (4) cultural estrangement, the sense of removal from established values in society (as, for example, in intellectual or student rebellions against conventional institutions), (5) social isolation, the sense of loneliness or exclusion in social relations (as, for example, among minority group members), and (6) self-estrangement.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 2 September 2014). 2. EncBrit – (last access: 22 August 2015).


CR: alienable, alienage, social education.