The Meaning of Estranged: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever wondered that the word estranged means? This guide will provide you with all of the knowledge you need on the word estranged, including its meaning, example sentences, synonyms, etymology, and more!

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What does the word estranged mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, the word estranged, pronounced “ɪˈstreɪndʒd”  is an adjective that means having lost a closeness or state of affection that one once held, or to be in a state of alienation from a familial relationship or friendship that was once close. This person might have a feeling of alienation from the person that they are estranged from. They could be sad that they do not have this relationship they once held dear, or they could be relieved to be out of that situation. No matter how you slice it, estrangement is never easy.

Oftentimes, this word is used to describe family members who are no longer close. If two siblings were separated into the foster care system and apart for many years, they could be considered estranged. If a woman moved across the country from an abusive husband but the divorce has not been finalized they would be considered estranged; he may refer to her as his estranged wife, and she may refer to him as her estranged husband. Estrangement is also frequent amongst family members who may have gotten into a fight. Estrangement does not denote anything legal in particular, though if a child does not know their father because they left after a divorce, this could also be considered estrangement. 

What is the etymology of the word estranged?

According to Etymonline, the word estranged has been used since the late 15th century. This word stems from the Old French estrangier, which is a verb that means to alienate. This comes from the Vulgar Latin extraneare, which means “to treat as a stranger.” Extraneare comes from the Latin extraneous, which meant foreign or from without. Other words with similar roots include the word extraneus, which means foregin, not pertinent, or irrelevant according to Dictionary, and stranger, which means a person with no personal acquaintance, according to Dictionary.

How can the word estranged be used in a sentence?

The word estranged can be used to describe many different types of relationships in different contexts, whether it is used to describe a family member or other type of relationship. In this first example, Sacha and Isa are discussing the results of their at-home DNA testing.

Isa: Well, mine told me what I already knew. My whole family is 100% Brazilian. No surprises there! That’s $100 I’ll never get back. How about you?

Sacha: I was actually blown away by my results. I knew that I was put into foster care as a baby and adopted soon after. I also knew that I had some estranged siblings, but I never knew their names of where they were. My results listed three full-blooded siblings that still live in Ohio.

Isa: Oh my God! Did you reach out to them?

Sacha: I did. We are all planning a time to get dinner and talk. I’m really nervous.

Isa: That is a big step. It can’t be easy, but I’m so proud of you. If you want a pep talk or if you want to talk about it after, just know I’m here for you.

Sacha: Thanks Isa.

Here, Sacha uses the word estranged to describe her siblings because she knows that they are out there but they are not close like they were when Sacha was a baby. She was too young to remember them. In this next example, Isa will use the word estranged when discussing her ex-husband.

Isa: Oh my God, hide!

Sacha: What? Why?

Isa: That’s my ex-husband over there. Well, not ex, technically. Estranged. He won’t sign the divorve papers. 

Sacha: What?! I didn’t know you were married.

Isa: It didn’t last long. He was amazing until we moved in together. Then the drinking started. After I left he refused to sign the divrce papers out of spite. Or legal battle is still ongoing.

What are synonyms and antonyms to the word estranged?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word estranged, which are called synonyms. Synonyms are words that have the same definition as a given word or phrase and can be used in place of these words. Someone might choose to look up a synonym to expand their vocabulary, or to avoid repeating themselves. The below list of synonyms is provided by Thesaurus.

  • split
  • disaffect
  • sunder
  • make hostile
  • antagonize
  • drive apart
  • divert
  • divorce
  • withhold
  • leave
  • disunite
  • sever
  • withdraw
  • part
  • alien
  • disunify
  • put on the outs
  • set at odds
  • divide
  • turn off
  • separate
  • wean
  • alienate
  • break up

However, if someone wished to describe someone who was the opposite of estranged, they could use an antonym. Antonyms are words that have an opposite meaning to a given word or phrase. This list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus

  • sympathetic
  • fond
  • devoted
  • affectionate
  • kind
  • attached
  • mushy
  • nutty about
  • partial
  • warmhearted
  • crazy over
  • tender
  • doting
  • warm
  • caring
  • dear
  • friendly
  • lovey-dovey
  • huggy
  • loving
  • fond of
  • soft on
  • all over

Overall, the word estranged is an adjective that means one no longer has the closeness they once had with someone. This is often used to describe a family member, but could also be used to describe a once-close friendship that has since ceased. This word is specifically used to describe people who were once very close, but who are not any more. It has a similar root to the word stranger, in that the person being described is now effectively a stranger.