so·​lil·​o·​quy | \sə-ˈli-lə-kwē \
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

In a one-man show as the ex-president, actor Philip Baker Hall performs an 87-minute soliloquy. Don Steinberg, WSJ, "For Filmmakers, Watergate Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving," 23 Oct. 2018 That soliloquy goes a long way to explain her actions. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Charlotte Riley on the "Pressure" of Playing Kate Middleton in 'King Charles III'," 14 May 2017 The remaining soliloquies were shot in the summer of 2016. Pam Grady, San Francisco Chronicle, "North Bay filmmaker’s Emmy-nominated “Shakespeare” airs July 11," 14 June 2018 Here comes Jimmy’s spouse, Polly – played by the overwhelmingly great Kristine Nielsen – who unleashes an utterly nuts 10-minute soliloquy. John Timpane,, "'Turning Off the Morning News' at McCarter Theatre: Crazy-funny, laced with darkness," 14 May 2018 His soliloquy was a mixture of excitement with traces of melancholy. Katrina Brooker, The Hive, "“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets," 1 July 2018 At his best, Leach is a brilliant football coach whose offense puts up a ton of points and makes people laugh with his soliloquies on everything from dating to the existence of Bigfoot. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Mike Leach's tweet of an anti-Obama hoax showed why many schools won't hire him," 18 June 2018 But in Yellowstone, everything happens — big, soapy things that are usually punctuated by long soliloquies. Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Yellowstone': TV Review," 18 June 2018 Prospero gives a final soliloquy at the end of The Tempest that has often been read as the coded words of Shakespeare himself renouncing the stage. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Puzzled by Westworld? Look to Shakespeare.," 26 June 2018

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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Statistics for soliloquy

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for soliloquy

The first known use of soliloquy was circa 1613

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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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