5

I do not seem to fit within this social group. This ______ might be due to social anxiety.

For the blank above I want to use something that means ‘lack of fitting’, but cannot find a good word that conveys this idea. Is there one?

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  • 1
    Something like Word for "outcastness"?
    – Laurel
    Jun 16 at 20:16
  • 3
    Well, there's "ill-fit".
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 16 at 21:45
  • 6
    The poor fit
    – Jim
    Jun 17 at 2:14
  • 4
    Probably "awkwardness" works best in this sentence. Jun 17 at 11:51
  • 3
    to fit or fit in would not be used in the progressive tense here. I feel that I don't fit in to this social group. That said, if you don't fit in somewhere, most of the suggested answers do not work...
    – Lambie
    Jun 17 at 13:21

14 Answers 14

12

Consider disconnect as a somewhat more informal term.

A lack of connection or accord; a mismatch.
There's a disconnect between what they think is happening and what is really going on.

From the book College Hookup Culture and Christian Ethics: The Lives and Longings of Emerging Adults, page 63, we have this:

Peer reactions ranged from puzzlement to outright hostility: I felt a disconnect between the more inebriated partygoers and myself. It is easy to see the role that group pressure plays in influencing people to drink.

8

The simplest and most obvious noun is:

misfit

after the first and original definition, according to Merriam-Webster:

1 : something that fits badly

Example of usage:

“If the wind is from the north-east , if a dress is a misfit , if people say…”

[An Autralian Girl, Catherine Martin, 2002]

Of course, a misfit has another, more common, meaning, but this describes the lack of fit, whereas words such as alienation describe the putative psychological feelings of the individual.

Another, less ambiguous, possibility, describing the actual state is:

discord

but this tends to imply disagreement, which may not necessarily be present.

disharmony

has less of an implication of disagreement, but perhaps too much of a musical tone.

incompatibility

is another possibility, although its contemporary use to describe personal relationships makes it less than perfect.


That’s my answer. However, in the absence of a perfect fit I personally would not go for a single word, but use a phrase like “lack of fit”, or simply use “This” as a back reference, to replace “The [...]” in the example. (But forget about social anxiety. They may just not be your type of people.)

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  • 7
    The simplest might be with no noun: “This might be due to social anxiety.”
    – Jim
    Jun 17 at 2:13
  • 1
    Misfit works just fine; as you said, it's: simplest and most obvious. Jun 17 at 3:23
  • @Jim I mentioned this in my footnote. The question was a one-word request, implicitly for a noun.
    – David
    Jun 17 at 6:43
  • 3
    Most dictionaries see the abstract 'non-fittting' sense as so rare that they don't list it. A 'misfit' is almost always a person. Jun 17 at 10:19
  • 1
    This makes me think of a person first and foremost: "The misfit of the group". I think two word phrases do better than this single word that comes across a little awkward since isn't usually used like this ("poor fit", "bad fit"). Jun 17 at 12:18
7

Alienation:

OED

1.a. Estrangement; the state of being estranged or alienated.

1966 J. Cheever Jrnls. (1991) 216 He explained that I had developed a social veneer—an illusion of friendship—that was meant to conceal my basic hostility and alienation.

And from Study.com:

Generally speaking, the term alienation is used to describe a person who feels isolated from others or is prohibited from taking part in aspects of society in which he or she should otherwise be allowed to participate. For example, people who often perceive themselves or are perceived by others to be 'outsiders' or a 'social misfits' might find that they are unwelcome in certain areas of society and will therefore feel alienated from others because they don't fit in.

Also see the definition:

Cambridge
alienation
the feeling that you have no connection with the people around you or that you are not part of a group:
Depressed people frequently feel a sense of alienation from those around them.

4
  • 1
    A clear answer to which I took the liberty of adding a dictionary definition.
    – Anton
    Jun 16 at 21:13
  • 1
    While absolutely fitting the requested definition, it’s probably worth noting that alienation has a much stronger tone than the example sentence suggests is warranted. (+1 either way, mind you, I just think that this should be mentioned prominently in the answer to make it the best it can be.)
    – KRyan
    Jun 17 at 12:16
  • To me, the word "alienation" makes it sound like the other people are excluding this person or being unwelcoming on purpose. Jun 19 at 4:31
  • @TannerSwett It works both ways: 1966 J. Cheever 'Journals'. (1991) 216 He explained that I had developed a social veneer—an illusion of friendship—that was meant to conceal my basic hostility and alienation. -- 1971 B. Sidran 'Black Talk' v. 152 This alienation from mainstream culture, then, remains basically a circular and unresolvable problem peculiar to the Negro.
    – Greybeard
    Jun 19 at 9:26
4

(OALD) inadequacy [uncountable] a state of not being able or confident to deal with a situation

  • a feeling/sense of inadequacy

It is a word, which when given the meaning of "social unfitness" is mostly used in one of the two combinations shown in the dictionary defintion. (sense of inadequacy, feeling of inadequacy)

  • I feel that I am not fitting within this social group. The sense/feeling of inadequacy might be due to social anxiety.
2
  • How can you equate "lack of fitting" as "inadequacy"? I may not fit into a social group because I feel that the ideas and interests of the members are trivial and stupid. This is certainly not a feeling of inadequacy.
    – David
    Jun 17 at 16:21
  • @David If one reads carefully the words in the OP's explanation, one sees that the person does not recognize themselves as not fitting: they seem not to fit in the group— maybe they are subject to a misapprehension of the situation—. finally, one reads that this problem might be due to social anxiety, which everyone knows, is a mere passing and subjective state of mind more or less easy to overcome; here is again the notion that the person does not consider themselves to be a misfit and that they merely have a feeling of not fitting in, not belonging; is that not a feeling of inadequacy?
    – LPH
    Jun 18 at 0:41
4

I suggest "incompatibility."

I feel that I am not fitting within this social group. The incompatibility might be due to social anxiety.

An example sentence from the definition page:

The pair’s incompatibility became immediately obvious once the expedition left Zanzibar. — Gary Krist, Washington Post, 27 May 2022

The definition of incompatibility links to incompatible: "incapable of association or harmonious coexistence."

1
  • This is another suggestion with the right connotations. Several of the others sound too formal or too slangy in this context, for me, but would work in a different sentence.
    – Davislor
    Jun 17 at 23:27
3

Probably "awkwardness" works best in your sentence. As in:

I feel that I am not fitting within this social group. The awkwardness might be due to social anxiety.

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  • 1
    This is the most natural sounding answer for the example sentence.
    – barbecue
    Jun 18 at 17:20
3

mismatch

a failure to correspond or match; a discrepancy

Oxford English Dictionary

This word might have the disadvantage of focussing more on the reasons to not fit in, "not-like-the-others" because of fashion, ideology, or some other superficial reason. The result and the mental state, the "I feel alienated" feelings, are better captured by other words (like "incongruence").

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  • This is the word I would use. Several of the others technically work, but are either too formal or too informal.
    – Davislor
    Jun 17 at 23:24
2

While — somewhat paradoxically, isn't it? ;-) — misfit is the best fit, we should mention awkward which describes exactly the discomfort and alienation one feels when one is a bad fit, inadequate, an outcast. If you indeed must use a noun, it would be the less elegant awkwardness.

1

An idiom for this is "fish out of water":

"Fish out of water" is an idiom used to refer to a person who is in unfamiliar, and often uncomfortable, surroundings.

Another idiomatic expression - "square peg in a round hole":

"Square peg in a round hole" is an idiomatic expression which describes the unusual individualist who could not fit into a niche of their society.

1

incongruence

the state of not being suitable or not fitting well with something else

Cambridge Dictionary

This word strongly suggests feeling out of place. You are a puzzle piece that doesn't fit in the jigsaw that is this social group. Something's not quite right, and it's a mental dissonance.

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  • 1
    perhaps Incongruity in the context of the sentence. But I agree with this one. Jun 17 at 14:36
1

disharmony

lack of harmony or agreement: we will become evermore a nation of social disharmony.

Lexico

This word makes the reader think about the group as a whole more so than some other words. It's less about the individual's lack of fitting in, and more about the whole group's state when the individual is hanging around it.

0

Something that fits well in your sentence because of the context, and suggests a negative mood and sadness, would be simply:

failure

1. lack of success
3. the action or state of not functioning

Oxford English Dictionary

The narrator feels that their inability to fit in with the group is some dysfunction or shortcoming. Using this word gives the phrase some emotional leaning, unlike other words which may be purely analytical. It fits very well in your sentence though.

0

Surprised not to see unfit.

As in: "this is plain unfit for service." Or often used in farm grade products, but could be used in a social situation.

unfit for human consumption

-1

How about dis-ease - absence of ease; uneasiness, discomfort; inconvenience, annoyance; disquiet, disturbance; trouble.

This usage, which predates the common current meaning ('illness'), was for long obsolete but has revived in modern use with the hyphenated spelling (OED) -

enter image description here

(Google Ngram)

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  • 2
    You can't really rely on Ngrams processing of hyphenation to be reliable. Dis-ease appears frequently in medical books referring to medical disease.
    – barbecue
    Jun 18 at 17:25
  • @barbecue - no doubt, the medical sense (without hyphen) is the dominant sense. I sometimes use the other sense I suggest here and the ngram supports this. The hyphen serves to distinguish the two meanings.
    – Dan
    Jun 18 at 22:52
  • There are no links on the Google Ngram for examples which appear in print, which suggest that the instances are extremely rare. Compare those results with "unease", beneath the Ngram chart you find a link showing the instances of usage.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 19 at 22:02
  • @Mari-LouA - thanks for that - hoist by my own petard! I can only say that I, and others I know, do use dis-ease in the sense I offer here. Both the OED and Merriam concur that it is a contemporary usage, whatever Ngrams may (be able to) measure - merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/word-history-of-disease
    – Dan
    Jun 20 at 22:15
  • @Dan what I meant was that Ngrams will encounter the word disease hyphenated in medical texts simply due to the normal hyphenation of words which occurs in published texts. The word will be hyphenated because it's at the end of a line, and Ngrams doesn't know the difference.
    – barbecue
    Jun 21 at 13:44

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