Do we have a word, phrase or an idiom that means 'torn between worlds' or 'don't know where I belong'?

Contextual example : When you're torn between your school friends and college friends but don't feel at home with the companies of both. But you want to be a part of both sometimes, to get the best of two worlds, which almost never happens.

  • Hello! Please provide more context. A short description will be enough. Could you explain the situation and how you would use this expression or term. A sentence where the idiom would fit. This question risks getting a mountain load of unrelated answers or none at all. My bet is on the latter.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 13, 2015 at 4:52
  • In Italian I might have suggested Non essere né carne né pesce (to be neither fish nor meat) but this is an English website.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 13, 2015 at 4:57
  • 1
    I've added context. Please do check. Your Italian phrase is close to what it feels like, but an English one would be better, thank you !
    – user15523
    Sep 13, 2015 at 5:40

3 Answers 3


This 17th century English idiom could fit, Wiktionary says:

neither fish nor fowl

(idiomatic) Something or someone which is not easily categorized; something or someone that does not rightly belong or fit well in a given group or situation

Alternatively, Oxford Dictionaries suggest

neither one thing nor the other
Not clearly either of two things: Sam stands on the cusp, neither one thing nor the other

I do like the term cusp which I think fits in with the OP's description. He or she may be on the cusp of adulthood, emotionally and/or physically.

Conflicted, describes the emotion.

confused or ​worried because you cannot ​choose between very different ​ideas, ​feelings, or ​beliefs, and do not ​know what to do or ​believe

Cambridge Dictionaries

  • 2
    Neither fish nor fowl explained the context. Conflict was the perfect word I had been looking for, it portrays the emotion perfectly !
    – user15523
    Sep 13, 2015 at 6:14

You could try "displaced" or "expatriated." Also, "ostracized" or "shunned." I hope these ideas help.

  • 1
    Your answer would be improved by indicating why you believe these words would be appropriate, for example, by providing a full explanation, dictionary definitions, suitable examples, and other support. StackExchange answers are expected to be definitive. I encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance.
    – choster
    Sep 13, 2015 at 17:08

I think that the feeling of not belonging to a place or a group of people can be described by he idiomatic expression:.

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.

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

(Cambridge Idioms Dictionary)

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