re·​cluse | \ˈre-ˌklüs, ri-ˈklüs, ˈre-ˌklüz \

Definition of recluse 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: marked by withdrawal from society : solitary



Definition of recluse (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who leads a secluded or solitary life

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Synonyms for recluse

Synonyms: Noun

anchorite, eremite, hermit, isolate, solitary

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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


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: Noun

Brown recluse Similar to the black widow, brown recluse spiders also have a distinct marking. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Brown recluse, black widow and other dangerous spiders found in the US," 10 July 2018 The painting is one of the most important of the works bequeathed to the Kunstmuseum Bern by Mr. Gurlitt, a recluse who hoarded about 1,500 artworks, some looted by the Nazis, in his homes in Munich and Salzburg, Austria. New York Times, "French and Swiss Museums to Share a Cézanne With a Murky Past," 3 July 2018 Their venom is not very dangerous to humans, unlike that of a brown recluse. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "5 of Michigan's scariest-looking spiders: What to know," 25 June 2018 Fun fact: While most spiders have eight eyes, the brown recluse has six. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Brown recluse, black widow and other dangerous spiders found in the US," 10 July 2018 Identifying a brown recluse is easy thanks to its distinct physical characteristics, but other spiders (and their bites) may be tricky. Maria Carter, Country Living, "7 Things You Need to Know About the Venomous Spider That Bit Meghan Linsey," 18 Apr. 2017 Clearly, Santopietro identifies more with Scout, Jem and Dill than with, say, Boo Radley, the town recluse who probably wouldn’t yearn for that simpler time when the townspeople regarded him with open distance and mistrust. Constance Grady, Vox, "They say a preposition is something you should never end a sentence with. That’s nonsense.," 23 June 2018 Reiss is proud the show got two out of the three greatest recluses to be guests on the show: novelist Thomas Pynchon and graffiti artist Banksy. Frank Rizzo,, "'Simpsons' Writer Mike Reiss Chronicles 'Greatest Job In The World' In New Book," 7 June 2018 In this first novel by an immensely gifted young Irish writer, a mutilated dog is adopted by the narrator, a 57-year-old dysfunctional recluse named Ray. WSJ, "Five Best: Sigrid Nunez," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'recluse.' 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 recluse


13th century, in the meaning defined above


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for recluse


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

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Time Traveler for recluse

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

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English Language Learners Definition of recluse

: a person who lives alone and avoids other people

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Comments on recluse

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


noxious or harmful

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