How would you define a person without (or with very bad) social skills?

I don't mean a totally anti-social, but one that struggles to behave in a social context, and feels awkward or out-of-place when forced to stay and talk with other people.

Maybe that would be anti-social, but not by choice... Just thinking to be rejected/avoided by others, and that keeps trying to relate to others but fails everytime.

Is there a word that could describe this? Or else, what word would be the closest and more appropriate to help explain this?

Altough some answer overlap my question this question differs from mine. This question is not about understanding others and their feelings, but rather at behaving in social context, or being marked as a weird/awkward person that's avoided by others.

  • The only word that I can think with a (partial) analogue meaning "nerd", but I believe that's just a single case of a more general definition
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 0:04
  • The problem is that there are almost as many ways of being anti-social as there are anti-social people. Are we talking about someone who frequently breaks wind in public, someone who collects dead hedgehogs as trophies, someone with body odour, someone who calls his female colleagues sweetheart or what?
    – WS2
    Dec 27, 2015 at 0:22
  • Many people have difficulty making small talk. Others chatter all the time, and say nothing; in small doses, they are amusing. As for the word: shy? self-conscious? Serious-minded? Such people can become very interesting when the right topic is introduced.
    – ab2
    Dec 27, 2015 at 0:23
  • @ab2 maybe just a mix of those.. but it's very difficult to describe with a couple words alone. This would probably fit only in several sentences
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 0:25
  • Would it be appropriate to use the term "social outcast" here?
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 0:33

4 Answers 4


Socially Inept

"Unable to judge and improvise interactions with other people in a acceptable or 'normal' manner. By a mix of being too keen or plain ignorant the socially inept seem to live in their own world exempt from who they're talking to. "

I think being socially inept could lead to being a social outcast, but the ineptitude precedes the exile.

  • good point there with the ineptitude. But I'm not totally sure about that. In my context ineptitude could be an effect of being outcast in the first place.. Upvoted anyway :P
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:04
  • I guess in my context it would be an overlap of both "Socially Inept" and "Social Outcast" simultaneously XD
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:07
  • 1
    Fair point re: which comes first. I'd think that if one were socially adept, they could overcome being a social outcast in a new setting (even if different/odd). If one were socially inept, new settings would just result in the same outcasting.
    – Minnow
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:08
  • 2
    @Zorgatone this person seems caught in a feedback loop. He/she is socially inept, which puts him/her at the outer fringes of social groups, which reinforces h/h social ineptitude, and so on. Socially inept is, IMO, a better phrase than social outcast, from what you have said, especially about the person being OK at work.
    – ab2
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:23
  • @ab2 Wow. I think you're right. But the person I personally know would probably be both. What I described seems more a Socially Inept, which is the root of the problem, and the same person is later Social outcast-ed
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:27

Avoidant personality disorder. It is more than social awkwardness or an inability to learn social skills. It draws upon a severe phobia of failure/anxiety in interacting with others.

Boor is totally inaccurate as a boor is usually self absorbed in their own interests. Socially inept is extremely close but represents an ability to learn social skills at some point.

Avoidant personality disorder is nearly impossible to overcome. It represents extreme feelings of anxiety in just thinking about interacting with strangers on a social level. Most suffering from this disorder can still interact with people in a work setting. This is the norm as well for those considered as nerds, etc. In this type of setting, Sufferers can rely on intelligence to guide their words to solve problems or interact peers. In a social setting, however; the anxiety sets in, sufferers feel uncomfortable and withdraw.


Doing some reaserch over the net, I think I've found what I was looking for.

I believe the term social outcast would be the most appropriate word to describe what I asked previously, so I'm adding my own answer here.

I'm quoting here a piece of definition that is not very "formal", which doesn't come from a dictionary but rather from "urbandictionary.com":

A loner or social outcast is a person rejected by their peers because they are different, strange, inept or misunderstood. They are ostracized, shunned, avoided, excluded, and generally unwelcome. They are victims of bullying, character assassins and scapegoats.

  • Let me have a feedback on this, as I am not too sure anyway this could be used in all contexts
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 0:43
  • 1
    This is extreme. I upvoted it because it could fit in the extreme case. I was about to offer tongue-tied "too shy or embarrassed to speak" Is this person OK in a work setting? Some people who tongue-tied in a social setting can speak up at work meetings. At work meetings, the topic is serious and they know what they are talking about. Another point, "loner" is much less extreme than "social outcast". Loners are never the life of the party, but they are often respected. urbandictionary is wrong to equate them.
    – ab2
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:12
  • Yeah this person is OK in a work setting. But it's awkward in a friend and/or family settings from time to time. Especially with acquaintances
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:13
  • Feels like the person is being rejected by new people and old friends and forgotten by many of them
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:14
  • 1
    I agree with you. It is the closest to the OP's context I think.
    – user140086
    Dec 27, 2015 at 4:27

If the society into which this inept person fails to fit in is polite or decent or cultivated society, one could call him (or, perhaps less likely, her) a boor. But often the society that people try and clumsily fail to fit into is anything but those things, in which case the term would be decidedly less apt.

  • 1
    I was saying the whole society in general. Your word isn't quite near what I was trying to define. But thanks for pointing that out anyway, I've found this useful :)
    – Zorgatone
    Dec 27, 2015 at 1:05

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