lone·ly | \ˈlōn-lē \
lonelier; loneliest

Definition of lonely 

1a : being without company : lone too many lonely nights at home

b : cut off from others : solitary the train stopped frequently at lonely little stations— Robert Hichens

2 : not frequented by human beings : desolate a lonely spot in the woods

3 : sad from being alone : lonesome He was feeling lonely without his wife and children.

4 : producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation it's a lonely thing to be a champion— G. B. Shaw

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from lonely

loneliness \ˈlōn-lē-nəs \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for lonely

alone, solitary, lonely, lonesome, lone, forlorn, desolate mean isolated from others. alone stresses the objective fact of being by oneself with slighter notion of emotional involvement than most of the remaining terms. everyone needs to be alone sometimes solitary may indicate isolation as a chosen course glorying in the calm of her solitary life but more often it suggests sadness and a sense of loss. left solitary by the death of his wife lonely adds to solitary a suggestion of longing for companionship. felt lonely and forsaken lonesome heightens the suggestion of sadness and poignancy. an only child often leads a lonesome life lone may replace lonely or lonesome but typically is as objective as alone. a lone robin pecking at the lawn forlorn stresses dejection, woe, and listlessness at separation from one held dear. a forlorn lost child desolate implies inconsolable grief at loss or bereavement. desolate after her brother's death

Examples of lonely in a Sentence

He was lonely without his wife and children. She was a lonely child with few friends. It was lonely living out in the country. She spent too many lonely nights at home. She had a lonely childhood. a lonely spot in the woods a lonely stretch of road
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Painter was a lonely outsider at RISD, and her experience there can be painful to read about. Barbara Spindel, The Christian Science Monitor, "'And Then We Danced,' 'Old in Art School,' tell of later-in-life creative endeavors," 21 June 2018 There was just a single vendor with a few heads of cauliflower and another with four lonely crowns of broccoli. Chuck Blount, San Antonio Express-News, "What’s available now in San Antonio-area farmers markets and what to expect soon," 9 May 2018 To make these weeks a little less lonely for children with the disease, the Avon Police Department is organizing an event to raise money for a charity Reid, a detective in the department, started. Nyssa Kruse, Courant Community, "Avon Police Organize Avon Mountain Challenge To Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Charity," 3 June 2018 For a generation as anxious, lonely and depressed as this one, this may be a skill worth acquiring. Rachel Simmons, chicagotribune.com, "Why you should stop asking new graduates what they're doing next," 10 June 2018 Other reports have found social media can increase jealousy, make users feel lonely, worsen depression, or make people feel inadequate. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "How Instagram May Help And Hurt People With Orthorexia," 13 Apr. 2018 His personal history taken out of context would reflect a boy alone in front of a screen, but not one of those memories feels lonely. Kat Bein, Billboard, "Porter Robinson Talks Writing a 'Really Sincere Love Letter' to the Early 2000s With Virtual Self Project," 10 Apr. 2018 And a beautiful woman who is not wearing a ball gown and diamond, but is wearing chinos and body armor doing a lonely walk through an area that and who was being cleared of mines. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Why Princess Diana's Fight Against Landmines Was So Remarkable," 18 Aug. 2017 Comedy involving sympathetic werewolf, vampire, ancient Egyptian princess brought to life, lonely British Lord named Edgar, his new wife, her snooty maid and other macabre and madcap characters. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: July 9-15," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lonely.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of lonely

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lonely

Statistics for lonely

Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lonely

The first known use of lonely was circa 1598

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lonely



English Language Learners Definition of lonely

: sad from being apart from other people

: causing sad feelings that come from being apart from other people

: not visited by or traveled on by many people


lone·ly | \ˈlōn-lē \
lonelier; loneliest

Kids Definition of lonely

1 : lone sense 1 I saw a lonely figure in the distance.

2 : not often visited a lonely spot

3 : sad from being alone : lonesome a lonely child

4 : producing sad feelings from being alone I spent a lonely evening at home.

Other Words from lonely

loneliness noun

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on lonely

What made you want to look up lonely? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!