• synonyms


[eyl-yuh-nist, ey-lee-uh-]
  1. (formerly) a doctor specializing in the treatment of mental illness.
  2. an expert witness in a sanity trial.
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Origin of alienist

1860–65; alien(ation) + -ist; compare French aliéniste in same sense
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for alienist

Historical Examples

  • Why might not Allonby have deceived him as to the alienist's diagnosis?

    The Early Short Fiction of Edith Wharton, Part 1 (of 10)

    Edith Wharton

  • The English poet's plays are a perfect storehouse of examples for the alienist.


    James Huneker

  • To the alienist and the criminal anthropologist it is a social pathology.

  • No doctor, no alienist, would have pronounced him mad, of course.

    The Brightener

    C. N. Williamson

  • I feel that she is likely to get an alienist in at any time.

    Outside Inn

    Ethel M. Kelley

British Dictionary definitions for alienist


  1. US a psychiatrist who specializes in the legal aspects of mental illness
  2. obsolete a person who practises alienism
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for alienist


"one who treats mental illness, 'mad doctor,' " 1864, from French aliéniste, from alienation in the sense of "insanity, loss of mental faculty," a sense attested in English from late 15c. (see alienate).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

alienist in Medicine


(ālyə-nĭst, ālē-ə-)
  1. A physician accepted by a court of law as an expert on the mental competence of principals or witnesses.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.