I always thought that anti-social describes someone who keeps to themselves. But according to Wikipedia, anti-social is not the right word. What, then, is the correct word to describe someone who prefers to keep to themselves, avoids parties and get-togethers? I'm not looking for the absolutely precise medical term for a mental illness (because such behavior may not in fact be an illness), just an informal word.

- Where is John? Is he going out with us for dinner?
- Nah, he's probably watching Netflix in his room. He tends to be [ ].

When most people say anti-social in an informal context, are just referring to someone keeping to themselves, or are they in fact suggesting their conscience is in question (which is a symptom of the Antisocial Personality Disorder)?

  • 1
    Introvert? Lone wolf?
    – NVZ
    Mar 4, 2016 at 8:17
  • One question per post is the policy of Stack Exchange. Please delete the addendum and post a separate question if you want. But remember you have to include your own research efforts in a question. Please make sure you take the tour and visit our help center for additional guidance.
    – user140086
    Mar 4, 2016 at 8:25
  • I've never heard anti-social by itself being used in a clinical sense - only in A-S PD. Anti-social is a (tiny) (little) bit stronger than "likes to keep to themselves" and has a tiny hint of condemnation/disapproval - but barely noticable and could refer to local rather than global characteristic.
    – A.S.
    Mar 4, 2016 at 8:31
  • Related question, What is a word for someone who prefers to be lonely?.
    – user140086
    Mar 4, 2016 at 9:13
  • @Rathony thanks for letting me know about the guidelines. It looks like there are quite a few answers addressing the secondary question, so deleting it may be a little late for me at this point. I'll keep this in mind in the future though. And thanks for the question link.
    – Tosh
    Mar 4, 2016 at 9:54

4 Answers 4



Merriam Webster's definition of loner:

loner, noun | lon·er | \ˈlō-nər\ : one that avoids others; especially : individualist

Personally, I have found that anti-social, while sounding technical, is used far more in the sense of being a loner.

Why doesn't my son want to play ball with the other kids? He's so anti-social. What will I ever do?

  • Thank you - this is great. Would you mind weighing in on the added question in regards to the usage of anti-social?
    – Tosh
    Mar 4, 2016 at 8:02
  • Nearly synonymous: hermit. Mar 4, 2016 at 8:06
  • @Scott Definition-wise, it is indeed similar. However, hermits are generally known to be old, living in the middle of nowhere. Search Google images for "hermit" and you will see. Mar 4, 2016 at 8:09


stick in the mud

(idiomatic, pejorative) A person unwilling to participate in activities; a curmudgeon or party pooper. Have a little fun sometimes and don't be such a stick-in-the-mud. Wiktionary


A person who prefers pleasures and activities that center around the home; stay-at-home. Random House


Many learned people use 'anti-social' to refer to those who keep to themselves. But I think in many parts of the world the word is used to refer to criminals. There are many alternative words. Examples: Don is a private person. He does not attend parties. The tribal people are usually unsociable.
The president is media shy. It is difficult to get him talk. Kala is an introvert. She lives a solitary life.

  • That's because those parts of the world would never say "He is a social person" and would use a word with a different root.
    – A.S.
    Mar 4, 2016 at 18:16

reclusive (adjective)

avoiding the company of other people; solitary.

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