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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web During Nelson’s soliloquy, the defendant was not wearing his mask. Washington Post, "The nation is waiting," 20 Apr. 2021 Parker wasn't the only soloist on the Shostakovich concerto, as the orchestra's principal trumpet, Manny Laureano, made a haunting soliloquy of his part on the work's wistful slow movement. Rob Hubbard, Star Tribune, "Guests spur Minnesota Orchestra in a stirring concert at a troubled time," 17 Apr. 2021 So much music is now a soliloquy with a producer in a room with Ableton talking to themselves. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Revealed: Billboard's 2021 Top Music Lawyers," 5 Apr. 2021 The chances that so many similar sentiments and specific phrases would be shared between Hamlet’s soliloquy and North’s earlier translation seemed vanishingly small to McCarthy., "How a college dropout in New Hampshire found a Shakespeare secret all the PhDs missed," 19 Mar. 2021 The Left sees that talk as a relic of a bygone era, like Biden’s soliloquy about leaving the record player on at night during one of the Democratic debates. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Party of groupthink," 11 Mar. 2021 After the Sudeikis soliloquy, the orchestra began playing the winners off, which is really nasty to do to people in their own homes. Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, "Golden Globes 2021: This Party Could Have Been an Email," 1 Mar. 2021 Plummer was playing Mark Antony, when one night, in a temper after a bad review, Jack Palance (playing Cassius) refused to leave him alone on stage for his soliloquy. Helen Shaw, Vulture, "Please, Everyone, Read Christopher Plummer’s Autobiography," 19 Feb. 2021 His Trump could deliver a spontaneous, near-nonsensical soliloquy about a rock band’s lyrics or a kids’ show — last summer, a rambling riff about Scooby-Doo drew more than 2.3 million views. Washington Post, "The top Trump impersonators are asking themselves: What now?," 16 Jan. 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for soliloquy

Time Traveler

The first known use of soliloquy was circa 1613

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Statistics for soliloquy

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Soliloquy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for soliloquy



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

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