A person who has a low emotional IQ and is bad at reading people and decoding their expressions and body language. I don't think I need to give any statement for it.

Edit: They do not have any physical or mental disorders but more like lacking empathy but are not psychopaths. Looking for synonyms of 'socially illiterate'.

  • Are you looking for naive? Or perhaps gullible? Sep 23, 2015 at 13:20
  • 5
    Clinically speaking, this is known as social-emotional agnosia. A less clinical term is simply socially oblivious.
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 23, 2015 at 13:23
  • 1
    Socially illiterate?
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 23, 2015 at 13:28
  • 2
    "indifferent to others" or close, but not exactly what you are looking for: A social misfit is generally thought of as someone who has different views on culture and doesn't fit in with most others in society. In recent years, the term social misfit has expanded to be used as a slur against people who don't have a lot of friends, or who find it difficult to get acclimated to a particular group.
    – Graffito
    Sep 23, 2015 at 13:48
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    I usually try to give such clueless people the benefit of the doubt and attribute their behavior to their cluelessness [about such matters].
    – Papa Poule
    Sep 23, 2015 at 21:49

8 Answers 8


That kind of person is "socially inept."



socially clumsy where clumsy, in particular:

awkward in movement or in handling things.


The psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has a term that I believe fits your definition perfectly,


impairment in mindreading

Mindreading, according to Simon-

is the natural way in which we interpret, predict, and participate in social behavior and communication.


So mindreading is an important part of empathetic accuracy which relates directly to ones ability to be socially literate, so I'd say your best synonym for someone who is "socially illiterate" would be mindblind.


Perhaps you are looking for insensitive (or unsensitive), or not sensitive, as in the sense of "not being responsive to or aware of feelings, moods, reactions". Also, perhaps you can use unempathetic.

  • The usual antonym of sensitive is insensitive.
    – WS2
    Sep 24, 2015 at 8:00
  • @WS2: Hi, do you think it is better now? Sep 24, 2015 at 8:22
  • Unsensitive is not unheard of, but in the OED insensitive has a much larger entry. Bear in mind that I am British, but to me unsensitive sounds like something a non-native speaker might say. Would you happen to be German? I have had German colleagues who have particular difficulty with their uns and their ins talking about something being unpossible or inoffcial.
    – WS2
    Sep 24, 2015 at 8:44

A "poor personality decoder", not exactly an idiom but conveys the idea.

You might also say "ingenuous" or "naïve".

  • ingenuous (adj) - (said of a person or action) innocent and unsuspecting. Google

  • naive (adj) - deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment; especially : credulous MW


I would describe the person as not sociable, thus insociable Merriam-Webster. I would take this to mean the person, for what ever reason, is not capable of normal social interactions.

You would think that unsociable Merriam-Webster would be a synonym, but it is not. I would consider someone described as unsociable to mean the person is hostile towards social interactions.


Apath: someone who is apathetic

The Sociopath-Empath-Apath triad

  • Sociopath — the one with the personality disorder.
  • Empath — an individual who is highly perceptive, insightful and sensitive to another’s emotions.
  • Apath — someone who is apathetic and likely to do the sociopath’s bidding.

use any of the following adverbs paired with any of the following adjectives

Adverbs: socially emotionally

Adjectives awkward tone-deaf inept impaired myopic

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