lone·​ly | \ ˈlōn-lē How to pronounce lonely (audio) \
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

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Other Words from lonely

loneliness \ ˈlōn-​lē-​nəs How to pronounce loneliness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for lonely



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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
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Recent Examples on the Web But science hasn't yet reached a conclusion — at the same time, some studies have found pet owners are more likely to be lonely, depressed and have other health problems. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "A family dog could help your preschooler learn social and emotional skills, study finds," 5 July 2020 At the Victorian Senior Care facilities in North Carolina, visitors have been strictly cut off since the outbreak of the pandemic four months ago, leaving many of the residents feeling lonely and isolated. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, "These Seniors Are Searching for Pen Pals to Keep Them Connected While Social Distancing," 30 June 2020 For people who are lonely and isolated, lockdown has caused mental anguish; for those with intimacy problems, claustrophobia. 1843, "The virtual couch," 26 June 2020 But after a few weeks, Jeremy, who is an only child, was clearly lonely. Lydia Denworth, The Atlantic, "What Happens When Kids Don’t See Their Peers for Months," 24 June 2020 But the Milky Way may not have always been such a sparse and lonely place. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "The Milky Way could have dozens of alien civilizations capable of contacting us," 18 June 2020 One of these programs is the South Florida Institute on Aging’s Friendly Visitor Program, which matches volunteers (Friendly Visitors) with lonely and isolated LGBTQ elders. Rebecca Renner, National Geographic, "How to beat loneliness during a pandemic? LGBTQ elders lend their wisdom," 17 June 2020 Patients are scared and lonely, and families can’t be present because of hospital visitation rules. Sara Harrison, Wired, "When Doctors and Patients Talk About Death Over Zoom," 15 June 2020 Their work is physically and mentally demanding, lonely and remote. Kitack Lim, WSJ, "Seafarers Need Recognition and Support from Governments: IMO Chief," 22 June 2020

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.

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First Known Use of lonely

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for lonely

Time Traveler

The first known use of lonely was circa 1598

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Statistics for lonely

Last Updated

8 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lonely.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lonely. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for lonely


How to pronounce lonely (audio)

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 How to pronounce lonely (audio) \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on lonely

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lonely

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lonely

Spanish Central: Translation of lonely

Nglish: Translation of lonely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lonely for Arabic Speakers

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