soliloquy

noun

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

Did you know?

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 legislators who scolded the nervous speakers then went on with their own, windy soliloquies. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 His farewell to the worm was not unlike the soliloquy of a movie villain about to dispatch the hero. Kenneth Chang, New York Times, 11 Dec. 2023 This year’s Earthshot Prize evening opened with a soliloquy from famed natural history broadcaster Sir David Attenborough before Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham, alongside fellow host Emmy award-winning actor and producer Sterling K. Brown welcomed delegates to the gateway to South East Asia. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 13 Nov. 2023 Later, after yet another Trump soliloquy in response to a yes-or-no question, Engoron repeated his entreaty. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 9 Nov. 2023 The cast of Hollywood’s hot labor summer has been rife with villain roles and star-making soliloquies. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, 28 July 2023 Logan was an irresistible brute, able to pack a Shakespeare soliloquy’s worth of emotion into a two-word curse. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 26 May 2023 At her latest, after the writers and artists performed, Alemu and a fellow actor wore matching black bodysuits and recited, as one, a soliloquy of racing thoughts before bed against trippy video visuals and ambient noise. Mariella Rudi, Los Angeles Times, 16 May 2023 With the impassioned soliloquies came unresolved legal questions. Eric Boodman, STAT, 18 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

circa 1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of soliloquy was circa 1613

Dictionary Entries Near soliloquy

Cite this Entry

“Soliloquy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/soliloquy. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

soliloquy

noun
so·​lil·​o·​quy sə-ˈlil-ə-kwē How to pronounce soliloquy (audio)
plural soliloquies
1
: the act of talking to oneself
2
: a dramatic speech that represents a series of unspoken thoughts
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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