I have the feeling that all dictionary entries are not really cutting to the core of bildungsfern, because it is a more neutral, descriptive term to show that someone did have the privilege to receive good education, which is not his fault.

I also need the most accurate term, because I would like to add a new term to the scientific discourse, that is nachhaltigkeitsfern to show that these terms can be clearly delineated, though correlating. Any suggestions for either of the two?

  • 3
    If I understand you correctly then you are looking for an English word that describes a concept of which you have a clear conception and which you think is represented by the German word bildungsfern. That would make this a question about the English language, not the German language.
    – Carsten S
    Sep 20, 2014 at 13:32
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    Isn't bildungsfern a term of political correctness that tries to avoid that people get upset when you call them what they are: ungebildet
    – Ingo
    Sep 20, 2014 at 13:47
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    @Takkat doesn't solve the translation accuracy problem, though...
    – Vogel612
    Sep 20, 2014 at 14:58
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    @Ingo, nein. Als „bildungsfern“ bezeichnet man meist nicht Menschen, sondern deren Umstände oder Umgebungen, zum Beispiel ihre Elternhäuser. Und es bezeichnet nicht nur einen Mangel an Bildung, sondern auch ein geringes Interesse daran.
    – Carsten S
    Sep 20, 2014 at 16:03
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the English language.
    – Carsten S
    Sep 20, 2014 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


Not quite getting the euphemism of using bildungsfern for uneducated but a nevertheless similar English term used in sociology or legal contexts (in the US) is:

educationally disadvantaged

References: USlegal Definitions. Globe examples of usage, Mondo facto

  • 2
    If you want a very clichéd type of euphemism, you can also upgrade this to educationally challenged.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 21, 2014 at 12:53

The problem when translating this is that fern captures a lot of different aspects due to its highly figurative use. I think a good approach for capturing this is trying to do a similar figurative use in English by translating the term rather literal.

I therefore suggest to use one of the following adjective for fern:

  • distant
  • remote
  • estranged
  • aloof
  • alien
  • far

The final term would then be something like aloof from education.

My intuitive favorite is aloof, however I am not very familiar with that word and it seems mostly to be used in a positive sense – which can make for nice dissonance however.

  • 'aloof from education' doesn't sound at all right.
    – user16583
    Sep 25, 2014 at 8:26

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