In literature and other forms of artistic production: the effect or technique of disrupting the reader's or audience's habitual perception of the world and making familiar elements in a text, play, etc., seem strange and fresh, especially by means of drawing attention to the language or formal devices used. Later also more generally: the fact or process of rendering something unfamiliar.
Often with reference to the literary theories of Russian formalism or, in early use occasionally, the plays of Bertolt Brecht, in which context the usual term is now alienation.
1950s; earliest use found in Mainstream. From de- + familiarization, partly after German Verfremdung, and partly after its model Russian ostranenie.