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

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
Recent Examples on the Web The three days of hearings reached an emotional climax during a dramatic soliloquy by Sen. Cory Booker who, reflecting on the historic nature of the moment, moved Jackson to tears. Devin Dwyer, ABC News, 23 Mar. 2022 In the Euphoria universe, someone can deliver a brutally self-aware soliloquy while pissing on the floor. Raven Smith, Vogue, 28 Feb. 2022 Edgard Varèse’s 1936 soliloquy for flute, after which her series is named. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2021 In another instance, Mr. O’Brien said, a man who did not want to wear a mask verbally assailed another employee, interspersing personal insults with an impromptu soliloquy about liberty and tyranny until the employee began to cry. New York Times, 2 Jan. 2022 At Golden State, Popovich closed his pregame remarks with a similar soliloquy about Green. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 6 Dec. 2021 His prose has an oratorical flair, like a vinous soliloquy summoning us to enjoy the pleasures of the grape. Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2021 But as Bohn slipped into a booming soliloquy, declaring his profound appreciation for their existence with no regard for volume, the energy in the room changed. Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2021 That soliloquy could have come from virtually any of the enthusiasts who have captured Ms. Orlean’s attention throughout her career. Jeremy Mccarter, WSJ, 1 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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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The first known use of soliloquy was circa 1613

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Last Updated

28 Mar 2022

Cite this Entry

“Soliloquy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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