I can't seem to figure out the word to use here. I need a noun that describes the state of (someone) being an outcast, but nothing's coming to mind, and I'm not really sure how I would go about looking up synonyms to a word that doesn't exist.

This is the sentence:

Instead of physical obstacles, both are faced with societal resistance and ______.

I might just restructure it, but now I'm kind of interested. Am I just blanking and missing a really obvious word?

  • In this case, you can look up synonyms to outcast. You might find some useful words that can be adapted for you need. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 3:39
  • Isolation, ostracizing, etc. Per Canis Lupus's comment: thesaurus.com/browse/isolation?s=t Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 9:46
  • Solitude would also do.
    – paddotk
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 15:56
  • A phrase I like that I learned from my father who spent WWII in England was "sent to Coventry". See Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Send_to_Coventry.
    – Al Maki
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 16:16
  • @AlMaki I can't really use colloquialisms, since this is an essay. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 16:24

11 Answers 11


Marginalization may be a useful word for you to use.

"Instead of physical obstacles, both are faced with societal resistance and marginalization."

In your example sentence, it sounds like the problem is a little less absolute than "ostracism" would imply. Ostracism is when they are excluded entirely, little to no interaction, full stop. Marginalization is a little bit less extreme, they are pushed to the edges, not taken seriously or not well accepted. To me this fits better with "social resistance", which seems to imply something more like dislike and disagreement rather than opposition or outright refusal.

Social exclusion, or social marginalization, is the social disadvantage and relegation to the fringe of society. - wikipedia


Marginalization - 1) to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power; 2)to relegate to the fringes, out of the mainstream; make seem unimportant - Dictionary.com


See if ostracism suffices. Check out this definition at Oxford dictionary:

Exclusion from a society or group.

  • Hmm. That could work well. Thanks! (Gonna accept when I can) Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 0:50
  • 2
    @Zacharee1 Don't accept it yet. Wait for more answers.
    – vickyace
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 1:27
  • if that's how it works here, OK. But ostracism does what I need. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 2:23
  • 6
    Well you were right. Last night, I couldn't find a word. Today, I don't know which to pick! Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 12:37
  • 3
    Alienation would definitely work (and fit my style a little better than ostracism), but I also like marginalization, since I'm comparing the characters from Pudd'nhead Wilson and The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 12:48

You might consider the word alienation. As dictionary.com defines it:

alienation (noun):

  1. the act of alienating, or of causing someone to become indifferent or hostile: The advocacy group fights against prejudice and social alienation of immigrants.

  2. the state of being alienated, withdrawn, or isolated from the objective world, as through indifference or disaffection: the group's alienation from mainstream society.

Although I like vocabulary.com's highly-evocative definition best:


An easy way to experience alienation from your nice-smelling friends is to go a month without bathing.
Alienation is a state of being cut off or separate from a person or group of people.

The noun alienation describes the feeling that you're not part of a group. Your political views might cause you to feel a sense of alienation from the rest of your family, or your vegetarianism could result in alienation from your meat-eating friends. The Latin word for alien is alienus, "belonging to another." That idea of not belonging, or not fitting in, gave rise to the Latin verb alienare, "to estrange," which alienation comes from.

  • 1
    There is a subtle distinction between this and the original request. "Ostracism" implies that the larger society is doing the exclusion, while "alienation" is the resulting mental state in the person ostracised. Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 11:32

The word "exclusion" fits too.

Instead of physical obstacles, both are faced with societal resistance and exclusion.


exclusion NOUN

1 The process or state of excluding or being excluded.

‘Geeks and freaks become what they are negatively, through their exclusion by others.’

  • +1 to this answer. Social exclusion is a term of art in sociology and related fields (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_exclusion) it seems to work particularly well for the OP's example, in which the objects are facing societal resistance [and social exclusion].
    – cmcf
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 1:02

Ostracism, as noted by vickyace, seems the apt word, but there's also shunning, a practice used by some religious communities, e.g., the Amish, to brand those who have violated social norms as outcasts with whom community members should no longer have any relations.

Another word that has religious overtones, but is occasionally used in other contexts is excommunicated.

E.g., dictionary.com lists one of the definitions for excommunicate to be "to exclude or expel from membership or participation in any group, association, etc." and as a usage example lists "an advertiser excommunicated from a newspaper."

  • This implies a (semi-)structured group to do the excommunicating, imo. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 16:31

Isolation could also fit your sentence, as in the concept of "social isolation" which is a commonly used term in sociology research.


I would suggest exile.

From Wikpedia:

To be in exile means to be away from one's home (i.e. city, state, or country), while either being explicitly refused permission to return or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return.


pariahhood or pariahdom or status of pariahs

First, define pariah. The Free Dictionary says:

A social outcast: "Shortly Tom came upon the juvenile pariah of the village, Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunkard" (Mark Twain).

The Free Dictionary (link above) explains the origin of the word pariah. Breifly, the word comes from Tamil, and refers to a specific group which had very low caste in the Indian caste system. English travelers to India began to use the word in this sense as early as 1613. With the expansion of British colonial power in India, pariah came to mean any low-caste Indian, and "By the 1800s, pariah had come to be used of any person who is despised, reviled, or shunned."

Pariahhood is the state of being a pariah, and is a word in the Oxford English Dictionary. I give the definition in total, because you may not be able to use the link.

Origin: Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: pariah n., -hood suffix.

Etymology: < pariah n. + -hood suffix. Compare pariahdom n., pariahism n., pariahship n.

Thesaurus » = pariahdom n.

1907 Oakland (Calif.) Tribune 16 Nov. ii. 14/1 Thus far no denial has been heard from the Mayor, and that silence is all that saves Biggy from political and official pariahhood.

1936 W. Faulkner Absalom, Absalom! 334 Rode the two horses through that night..in something very like pariah-hood.

1994 N.Y. Times (Nexis) 27 Sept. c16/3 The artist's grievances extend well beyond high-school pariahhood.

2001 Washington Post (Nexis) 3 Sept. a21 Its political pariahhood in danger of being resurrected

pariahdom, again from the OED and again quoted in toto because you may not be able to use the link:

The state or condition of a pariah or outcast.

1877 J. A. Symonds in Cornhill Mag. Nov. 456 The men of whom I speak were conscious of pariahdom, and eager to be martyred in the glorious cause.

1894 Work & Workers June 258/2 Ostracism from the class carries with it..hopeless, entire pariahdom.

1906 W. J. Locke Beloved Vagabond (1908) vi. 68 They walked on together, and I dropped behind, suddenly realising my pariahdom.

1945 R. Hargreaves Enemy at Gate 19 This choice aggregation of desperadoes and ‘poor masterless men’, welded into that solidarity of pariahdom which is the outlaws' primary source of strength.

2000 Guardian 3 May i. 3/7 For Libya the prize was an end to pariahdom

You said that you might restructure the sentence. You could say:

Instead of physical obstacles, both are faced with societal resistance and the status of pariahs.


EDIT: @ab2 posted their answer as I as writing this one up.

The first word that came to mind for me was pariah.

pariah (pəˈraɪə; ˈpærɪə) n

  1. (Sociology) a social outcast

  2. (Sociology) (formerly) a member of a low caste in S India [C17: from Tamil paraiyan drummer, from parai drum; so called because members of the caste were the drummers at festivals]

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

You could rework your sentence to say:

Instead of physical obstacles, both are pariahs faced with societal resistance.


Instead of physical obstacles, both are faced with societal resistance and pariahism.

In the second case you could also user pariadom (which I like better).


enmity positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will



Renegade would also fit.

From Cambridge Dictionary

a person who has changed their feelings of support and duty from one political, religious, national, etc. group to a new one

  • 6
    Instead of physical obstacles, both are faced with societal resistance and renegade???
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 5:29
  • @Jim Renegadity? Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 12:49

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