I have a question about what it means to be antisocial. Some people use the word interchangeably with introverted or unsociable, but other will get offended if you use it that way and say antisocial means psycho/sociopathic. Obviously unsociable and psychopathic are two very different words. But why the confusion?

The dictionary's definition for antisocial more so describes someone who is unsocial "1-contrary to the laws and customs of society; devoid of or antagonistic to sociable instincts or practices 2-not sociable; not wanting the company of others" But the medical definition more so describes a psycho/sociopath "a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. They tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior."

Even though they are both describing the same word their definitions on the meaning of the word are completely different. The definition of antisocial being someone who's unsocial, might lack social skill, may be aggressive to society fits both the dictionary's description and the medical description of the word but the medical definition adds extra traits to describe the meaning of antisocial, they add they uses and manipulates people, have no empathy or morals and feel no guilt and the stuff they added changed the entire meaning of the word from unsociable to sociopathic or psychopathic. Their definitions on the meaning of antisocial differ so much that if you read only their definitions for it you wouldn't be able to tell they were defining the same word. I thought the dictionary's definition of a word was the true definition, how can the medical usage/meaning of the word be different and not be considered wrong? So back to my question, if you describe yourself or someone else as antisocial does it mean unsociable or psychopathic?

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    Could you link to the dictionaries you are quoting from? Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 10:43
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    Antisocial will have different meanings depending on whether the context is medical or non-medical.
    – LawrenceC
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 5:43

2 Answers 2


One who suffers from antisocial personality disorder is known as a psychopath or sociopath. Such people regularly break the law, use and abuse other people, lie, cheat and steal with no genuine remorse. If used by non-psychiatrists or in non-psychiatric contexts, it simply means unsocial, generally implying a desire to be alone.


Someone who is introverted or unsociable will indeed be offended if you call them antisocial, and rightfully so.

Someone who is antisocial disrespects the rights of others in the society and will often actively proof this. Someone who is antisocial will come home late in the night, producing a maximum of noise, with complete disregard of neighbours who need their sleep to get up to work in the next morning. Someone who is antisocial will play rubbish music as loud as possible, modify the engine of his car to be louder, will manage to occupy four seats in a full subway carriage, and so on.

All things that an introverted or unsociable person isn't going to do.

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