1 of 2


re·​cluse ˈre-ˌklüs How to pronounce recluse (audio)
ˈre-ˌklüz How to pronounce recluse (audio)
: marked by withdrawal from society : solitary


2 of 2


: a person who leads a secluded or solitary life

Did you know?

Greta Garbo and Howard Hughes were two of the most famously reclusive celebrities of modern times. She had been a great international star, called the most beautiful woman in the world; he had been an aircraft manufacturer and film producer, with one of the greatest fortunes in the world. It seems that Garbo's reclusiveness resulted from her desire to leave her public with only the youthful image of her face. Hughes was terrified of germs, though that was the least of his problems.

Examples of recluse in a Sentence

Noun My neighbor is a recluse—I only see him about once a year. he was sick of cities and crowds, so he decided to go live by himself in the woods as a recluse
Recent Examples on the Web
Kaitlyn Dever plays Brynn, a recluse who fights back when an alien enters her home, and must continue to do so all on her own. Will Harris,, 28 Nov. 2023 One was given to him by the famous recluse Buckskin Bill. Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 The venom of a brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) contains a protein that attacks the cell membranes in tissue, destroying the walls of blood vessels. Steven Hill, Field & Stream, 25 Oct. 2023 Far from being a recluse in the VIP section, he was found mostly out on the dance floor. Jason Horowitz, Vogue, 12 Jan. 2024 At his funeral Mass, his sister made clear that Harold hadn’t been a delusional recluse. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, 25 Dec. 2023 Clothes and trash strewn outside Neighbors on North Burlington Street described Yoo as a recluse who had trashed his front yard and tossed clothes out the window hours before Monday’s explosion. Tom Costello, NBC News, 5 Dec. 2023 In an exclusive interview, Diego’s older brother David told NBC News that his brother was a quiet recluse who stayed up every night playing video games. Richie Duchon, NBC News, 1 Nov. 2023 Readers have sometimes taken me for a recluse of some kind. Sallie Tisdale, Harper's Magazine, 16 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'recluse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, from Anglo-French reclus, literally, shut away, from Late Latin reclusus, past participle of recludere to shut up, from Latin re- + claudere to close — more at close entry 1

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined above


13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of recluse was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near recluse

Cite this Entry

“Recluse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a person who lives away from others

More from Merriam-Webster on recluse

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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