Social Misfit Definition and Examples

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A social misfit is generally thought of as someone who doesn't fit in with most others in society. There are a variety of ways in which the term is used and the social misfit definition can mean different things to people. 

Generally, the term social misfit refers to someone who does not fit in—an outcast, if you will. Some use the term with regard to people who donf't fit in but try to do so; others see a social misfit as someone who does not fit in on purpose.

In recent years, the term social misfit has expanded to be used for people who don't have a lot of friends, or who find it difficult to get acclimated to a particular group. The problem with this term is that it implies that anyone outside of the normally accepted boundaries of friendship or social interaction is weird or odd. While some may struggle to make or keep friends, it doesn't mean they are misfits of society.

Cultural Norms May Impact the Definition of a Social Misfit 

Another point to consider when using the term "social misfit" is with regard to generally accepted societal norms. These are commonly accepted practices that involve blending in with the rest of the people around us in our schools, workplace, or community. In some cases, norms have been created over time to protect us, help us with etiquette, or even to help us relate and connect with each other. Someone may be labeled a social misfit if they do not conform with these standards. 

Merriam-Webster's definition of social misfit is "a person who is different from other people and who does not seem to belong in a particular group or situation." This person chooses to be held apart from society in some way, as in rarely going out in public or refusing to have friends. In this reference, social misfit wants to be on the outskirts on purpose. Some individuals may label themselves as social misfits when they are really just introverts.

Can You Be a Misfit on Purpose?

Knowing that, though, it doesn't stop people from using the term to refer to different types of misfits. It's become widely accepted to refer to both types of people (intentional social misfits and unintentional social misfits). An unintentional social misfit could refer to a child at school that does not have many friends or social interactions. On the other hand, an intentional social misfit could refer to a loner who does not believe he or she should go along with cultural norms. That person could reject various ways of life in a culture, perhaps not out of true obligation but simply because the or she does not want to go with the flow.

A misfit is someone who is different. And a social misfit is different in social situations, which is why it has been so common to refer to the person who doesn't fit in as a social misfit.