lone·​ly ˈlōn-lē How to pronounce lonely (audio)
lonelier; loneliest
: being without company : lone
too many lonely nights at home
: cut off from others : solitary
the train stopped frequently at lonely little stationsRobert Hichens
: not frequented by human beings : desolate
a lonely spot in the woods
: sad from being alone : lonesome
He was feeling lonely without his wife and children.
: producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation
it's a lonely thing to be a championG. B. Shaw
loneliness 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

Example Sentences

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 The chapter offers no evidence — whether from her experience or that of others — that makes this picture of lonely and desperate masses believable. Bradley Babendir, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2023 The hopes and fears of the blessed and the lonely, the vital and the frail. Steve Lopezcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 12 Jan. 2023 If habitual loneliness is causing so much misery, why aren’t the habitually lonely taking greater steps to fight it? Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, 5 Jan. 2023 The natural world is wondrous, McIntosh suggests, but also stark, lonely and fragile, even threatening. New York Times, 22 Dec. 2022 The synths gallop like excitable ponies while his warm-wash vocals swoop and dip, a sweet little slice of life-support disco for the lonely. Jason Lamphier, EW.com, 9 Dec. 2022 Halifa, a teenager with albinism, plays the title role, a lonely and rebellious misfit living with her terminally ill grandmother. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 9 Dec. 2022 Ohlander said scammers change their tactics based on current events, and romance scams tend to surge around Valentine’s Day, a time when some people tend to feel lonely and vulnerable. Dallas News, 7 Dec. 2022 At home, Saoirse grew up into a lonely and troubled teen. Kristine Phillips, The Indianapolis Star, 1 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lonely was circa 1598

Dictionary Entries Near lonely

Cite this Entry

“Lonely.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lonely. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


lone·​ly ˈlōn-lē How to pronounce lonely (audio)
lonelier; loneliest
: not visited by human beings : desolate
a lonely spot
: lonesome sense 1
feeling lonely
loneliness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on lonely

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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