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Underprivileged vs. Unprivileged — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on April 1, 2024
Underprivileged refers to lacking societal advantages, while unprivileged means not having special rights.
Underprivileged vs. Unprivileged — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Underprivileged and Unprivileged


Key Differences

Underprivileged individuals are those lacking in societal advantages, such as economic, educational, and social resources, which are considered necessary for equal opportunities. On the other hand, unprivileged individuals or groups simply do not possess certain rights or privileges that others might, without necessarily implying socioeconomic disadvantages.
Underprivileged status often results from systemic inequalities that affect various aspects of a person's life, leading to challenges in accessing quality education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Whereas, being unprivileged can relate to specific contexts or settings, such as not having administrative privileges on a computer system or lacking certain legal rights or statuses.
The term underprivileged is commonly used in discussions about social justice, equity, and policies aimed at addressing disparities in wealth, health, and education. Meanwhile, unprivileged is more neutral and can be applied to a broader range of situations where special rights or permissions are absent, not necessarily tied to social or economic conditions.
While underprivileged conditions are usually addressed through policy changes, social programs, and community support to lift people out of their disadvantaged positions, solutions for unprivileged statuses might involve granting access, rights, or permissions specific to the context in which the term is applied.

Comparison Chart


Lacking societal advantages
Not having special rights or privileges


Social, economic
Legal, administrative, general


Disadvantaged in multiple societal aspects
Lacking specific privileges or rights


Social programs, policy changes
Granting access, rights, or permissions


Economic hardship, limited access to education
Not having admin rights on a computer, lacking legal privileges

Compare with Definitions


With limited access to resources.
Underprivileged neighborhoods may have fewer healthcare facilities.


Lacking legal privileges.
Unprivileged witnesses in the court receive no special treatment.


Lacking societal advantages.
Underprivileged communities often face significant barriers to accessing quality education.


Not having special rights.
Unprivileged users cannot access the advanced settings of the software.


Economically disadvantaged.
The charity focuses on underprivileged children, providing meals and educational support.


Without administrative permissions.
Unprivileged accounts are restricted from installing new applications.


Socially marginalized.
Underprivileged groups are pushing for more inclusive policies to address systemic inequalities.


General lack of privileges.
In the organization, unprivileged staff are not allowed to attend executive meetings.


Subject to systemic barriers.
Underprivileged students struggle more with remote learning due to lack of internet access.


Excluded from certain advantages.
Unprivileged members do not have access to the club's private facilities.


(of a person) not enjoying the same standard of living or rights as the majority of people in a society
Needy and underprivileged members of the community
The plight of the underprivileged


Not having special rights, advantages, or immunities
Mrs Weber is from an unprivileged background


Lacking the standard of living and opportunities enjoyed by most people in a society.


Not having special privileges, opposite of privileged.


Deprived of the opportunities and advantages of others, usually through no fault of one's own.


Not requiring special privileges


A deprived person; deprived people normally used as a plural.


Lacking the rights and advantages of other members of society

Common Curiosities

What are some examples of underprivileged communities?

Communities facing economic hardships, with limited access to education and healthcare, are considered underprivileged.

What does it mean to be underprivileged?

Being underprivileged means lacking societal advantages like access to quality education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.

How is being unprivileged different from being underprivileged?

Being unprivileged refers to not having specific rights or privileges, whereas underprivileged indicates a broader lack of societal advantages.

What does it mean to have unprivileged access in computing?

Unprivileged access means having limited permissions, typically preventing a user from making system-wide changes.

Are unprivileged rights the same as human rights?

No, unprivileged rights pertain to specific privileges or permissions, while human rights are fundamental rights everyone is entitled to.

What role does education play in helping underprivileged individuals?

Education is crucial in providing underprivileged individuals with opportunities for improving their socioeconomic status.

Can one move from being underprivileged to privileged?

Yes, through education, economic opportunities, and societal support, individuals can overcome underprivileged statuses.

Can someone be both underprivileged and unprivileged?

Yes, an individual can be both underprivileged in a societal context and unprivileged in specific situations or systems.

Does unprivileged status affect one's legal rights?

It can, especially in contexts where certain legal privileges or rights are not granted.

Can policies aimed at helping underprivileged groups affect those who are unprivileged?

Policies may overlap in intentions but typically address different issues; however, improving societal advantages can indirectly benefit those lacking specific privileges.

What measures can institutions take to support underprivileged individuals?

Institutions can provide scholarships, healthcare support, and access to resources and opportunities.

Why is it important to recognize the distinction between underprivileged and unprivileged?

Understanding the distinction helps in addressing specific needs and implementing effective solutions for each group.

How can underprivileged conditions be improved?

Through policy changes, social programs, and community support aimed at addressing and mitigating systemic barriers.

How do societal perceptions of underprivileged and unprivileged differ?

Underprivileged is often associated with sympathy and a call to action, while unprivileged is more neutral and context-specific.

Is being unprivileged always related to technology?

No, while often used in technological contexts, unprivileged can refer to any situation where special rights or permissions are absent.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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