Is there a word for a feeling or person that is part of a social class, but doesn't feel like they belong in that class? Say someone was poor their entire life and won the lottery. People they may associate with, and are friends with, poor people but may live around and attend functions with people in their economic class. In those cases they feel out of place.

  • You know, the most common is just "don't fit in". ("I was born and raised in Melbourne, but I don't fit in..." sort of thing.) – Fattie Mar 30 '14 at 6:56

Not a single word but a common idiom...

be like a fish out of water

To feel awkward because you are not familiar with a situation or because you are very different from the people around you. source

All the other children in the school had rich, middle-class parents, and she was beginning to feel like a fish out of water.

  • You know, i think the OP is looking for someone who feels like a fish out of water, EVEN THOUGH IN FACT they ARE PART OF the social class in question. Is that right, OP? – Fattie Mar 30 '14 at 6:54

Perhaps alienated

feeling that you do not belong in a particular society, place, or group

Another possibility is anomic

socially disoriented

This, however, usually refers to a breakdown in overall social mores or values.


Parvenu: "a person who has recently or suddenly acquired wealth, importance, position, or the like, but has not yet developed the conventionally appropriate manners, dress, surroundings, etc."

It is derogatory, and the sense of not belonging is legitimate emotion


This may be a case of impostor syndrome:

impostor syndrome … is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved.

  • +1: I did not know of this, but it's interesting. I wonder if it explains Richard Nixon. – Robusto Mar 30 '14 at 15:49
  • This works in the specific example the asker gave, but it wouldn’t work in the opposite case—say, someone who used to be part of the jet set with a fancy Wall Street job, but then lost both job and money and is now living in a more humble environment, working as an accountant in a local firm, and feeling out of place in all this ordinariness. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 30 '14 at 16:31

"to feel like an outsider" can fit also and it is a very common phrase.

Though it can be applied pertaining not only to changing environments but also a general feeling of not belonging to any class.

classlessness is a similar concept but less common. It can be used as "to feel classless".

outsider: One who is isolated or detached from the activities or concerns of his or her own community.

classless: characterized by the absence of economic and social distinctions


Deracinate - to remove or separate from a native environment or culture

One year after winning the lottery, Jane felt deracinated; none of her old friends had much in common with her new lifestyle.

Edit Remembering that plants that have been up rooted often go through a transplant shock, I thought of culture shock.

Culture shock : a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation

  • This describes the state of affairs the asker is looking for, but from the opposite side, so to speak: what the asker is looking for describes the feeling of not fitting into the new environment, while deracinate(d) describes one’s feeling towards one’s original environment more. Good word nonetheless. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 30 '14 at 16:29

You might try:
Socially isolated
Socially disconnected
Social pariah

Many of these have specific connotations, so choose the best for your needs.


Disconcerting is an adjective that describes this "out of place" feeling.

Going by etymology concert means harmonize, unite or cause to agree. Dis negates this meaning. So the person doesn't feel as a part of this group.

  • That’s not what disconcerting means. It means something that causes you (or others) to fell uncomfortable or ill at ease. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 30 '14 at 16:26
  • As far as my knowlege serves, this discomfort stems from not being able to relate to the group they are with. – manu Mar 30 '14 at 16:44

You are looking for a word that means the opposite of class conscious. I'm not aware of a single such term.

Google for class consciousness as well as class conscious for more about the general concept.

  • Whoever downvoted this, care to say why? – Drew Mar 30 '14 at 16:14

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