so·​lil·​o·​quy | \ sə-ˈli-lə-kwē How to pronounce soliloquy (audio) \
plural soliloquies

Definition of soliloquy

1 : the act of talking to oneself
2 : a poem, discourse, or utterance of a character in a drama that has the form of a monologue or gives the illusion of being a series of unspoken reflections

Keep scrolling for more

Soliloquy vs. Monologue

Soliloquy and monologue cover very similar ground, but there are some important differences between the two words. Soliloquy (from the Latin solus “alone” and loqui “to speak”) at its most basic level refers to the act of talking to oneself, and more specifically denotes the solo utterance of an actor in a drama. It tends to be used of formal or literary expressions, such as Hamlet’s soliloquies. Monologue (from Greek monos "alone" and legein "to speak") may also refer to a dramatic scene in which an actor soliloquizes, but it has other meanings as well. To a stand-up comedian, monologue denotes a comic routine. To a bored listener, it signifies a long speech uttered by someone who has too much to say.

Examples of soliloquy in a Sentence

But if it is hard for the theatergoer to catch all the meanings in Macbeth's rippling soliloquies, then how much harder is that task when Shakespeare seems unable or unwilling to unpack his obscurities. — James Wood, New Republic, 26 June 2000 A funny thing happened to Billy Joel on the way to the recording studio recently. "I was walking down the street," he says, "and there was this big guy with long, stringy, greasy hair just talking to the air—screaming, actually. He was in the middle of this angry soliloquy when he looked at me, stopped and said in a regular voice, 'Hey, Billy, how ya doin'?' And then he went right back into his tirade." — Elysa Gardner, Rolling Stone, 10 June 1993 After Allen left, what became known as "The Tonight Show" fell into the hands of a genuine original. Jack Paar was an eminently normal-looking man, a former G.I. entertainer who planted himself at a desk instead of scampering around like Allen had. He would begin his shows in a low, well-modulated voice, exuding a dangerous calm. Then, periodically, but never predictably, he would lurch into disgruntled, pathetic soliloquies, decrying some indignity visited upon him by the network or the press. — Alex Ross, New Republic, 8 Nov. 1993
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Hamlet’s soliloquy, and the Navy Seal copypasta, have drawn the ire of the star’s entertainment company Roc Nation LLC, which has asked YouTube to remove the material for copyright violation, according to The Verge. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "A.I. engineers should spend time training not just algorithms, but also the humans who use them," 5 May 2020 Chief justice John Roberts, for example, can’t help seeming just a wee bit irritated at times when Stephen Breyer goes into one of his soliloquies masquerading as a question. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The US Supreme Court debates the internet’s future over the phone," 4 May 2020 This online project from Center Theatre Group includes clips of Bill Irwin, Alan Mandell, Carmen Cusack and others sharing songs, stories and soliloquies. Matt Cooper, Los Angeles Times, "Mozart meets ‘Star Trek’ in an online watch party? Beam us up," 8 Apr. 2020 August tried to imagine what his mother would say about this homey little soliloquy. New York Times, "‘August,’ by Callan Wink: An Excerpt," 31 Mar. 2020 Nonetheless, the lawyer pressed on, offering a soliloquy that could only have been improved with accompaniment by the world’s smallest violin. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Fraudster tells US Supreme Court it’s unjust for SEC to take swindled profits," 4 Mar. 2020 Each of Barnatan’s soliloquies was a melancholy meditation, sweet, sad and ultimately soothing. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Minnesota Orchestra review: Pianist Barnatan fuels emotion that drives rewarding concert," 10 Oct. 2019 Meanwhile, Warren was allowed long soliloquies just because Michael Bloomberg passingly referred to her. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "A Bad Night for Democrats," 26 Feb. 2020 The verse fluctuates between graphic gay content, advocacy for civil rights, anti-Vietnam monologues and meditative soliloquies on nothingness. Washington Post, "At the Hirshhorn, a showcase of recent acquisitions takes the temperature of the art world," 24 Dec. 2019

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

circa 1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for soliloquy

Late Latin soliloquium, from Latin solus alone + loqui to speak

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about soliloquy

Time Traveler for soliloquy

Time Traveler

The first known use of soliloquy was circa 1613

See more words from the same year

Statistics for soliloquy

Cite this Entry

“Soliloquy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for soliloquy


How to pronounce soliloquy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of soliloquy

: a long, usually serious speech that a character in a play makes to an audience and that reveals the character's thoughts

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on soliloquy

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


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!