I am looking for a word to describe a teenager as someone who is "not sheltered." Someone who has been exposed to many different people, communities and ways of thinking. Worldly seems too broad of a word as it should relate to experiences within his community. I'm also looking for a word that more closely relates to how he was raised and what he was allowed to have access too. If a child is not sheltered they are what?

  • 1
    The homeless, do you mean?
    – NVZ
    Jan 26, 2016 at 19:13
  • 1
    S/he has had A WIDE EXPOSURE to the world and its many people-groups, cultures and worldviews, thanks to his/her parents and the way they reared him. Jan 26, 2016 at 19:13
  • What about a gypsy? Drifter?
    – NVZ
    Jan 26, 2016 at 19:14
  • 1
    The term "sophisticated" comes to mind: "altered by education, experience, etc., so as to be worldly-wise" From: dictionary.reference.com/browse/sophisticated Jan 26, 2016 at 19:21
  • 2
    That child could be anything from well-adjusted to well-socialized to street-wise to psychologically damaged
    – Jim
    Jan 26, 2016 at 21:56

3 Answers 3


Actually street-smart or streetwise makes a very good opposite to sheltered. Here is the entry in Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary for streetwise:

streetwise adj (1965): possessing the skills and attitudes necessary to survive in a difficult or dangerous situation or environment

Given how recently streetwise and street-smart (which MW says dates to 1974) arose, they may have been coined in direct contrast to sheltered. Google Books finds instances of "sheltered life" in its modern sense from at least as long ago as 1854, in Youthful Pilgrims; or, Memorials of Young Persons of the Society of Friends.


In my experience as one who was ostensibly "sheltered," the opposite was usually socialized:

to fit or train for a social environment (M-W)

It's related to socialization, as in:

the process in which people, especially children, learn to behave in a way that is accepted by society (MacMillan)



without shelter from the elements

(Collins Online Dictionary)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.