solitary

adjective
sol·​i·​tary | \ ˈsä-lə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce solitary (audio) \

Definition of solitary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : being, living, or going alone or without companions
b : saddened by isolation
2 : unfrequented, desolate a solitary seashore
3a : taken, passed, or performed without companions a solitary ramble
b : keeping a prisoner apart from others solitary confinement
4 : being at once single and isolated a solitary example
5a : occurring singly and not as part of a group or cluster flowers terminal and solitary
b : not gregarious, colonial, social, or compound solitary bees

solitary

noun
plural solitaries

Definition of solitary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one who lives or seeks to live a solitary life : recluse
2 : solitary confinement in prison put him in solitary

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Other Words from solitary

Adjective

solitarily \ ˌsä-​lə-​ˈter-​ə-​lē How to pronounce solitarily (audio) \ adverb
solitariness \ ˈsä-​lə-​ˌter-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce solitariness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for solitary

Synonyms: Adjective

alone, lone, one, one-off, only, singular, sole, special, sui generis, unique

Synonyms: Noun

anchorite, eremite, hermit, isolate, recluse

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Choose the Right Synonym for solitary

Adjective

alone, solitary, lonely, lonesome, lone, forlorn, desolate mean isolated from others. alone stresses the objective fact of being by oneself with slighter notion of emotional involvement than most of the remaining terms. everyone needs to be alone sometimes solitary may indicate isolation as a chosen course glorying in the calm of her solitary life but more often it suggests sadness and a sense of loss. left solitary by the death of his wife lonely adds to solitary a suggestion of longing for companionship. felt lonely and forsaken lonesome heightens the suggestion of sadness and poignancy. an only child often leads a lonesome life lone may replace lonely or lonesome but typically is as objective as alone. a lone robin pecking at the lawn forlorn stresses dejection, woe, and listlessness at separation from one held dear. a forlorn lost child desolate implies inconsolable grief at loss or bereavement. desolate after her brother's death

Examples of solitary in a Sentence

Adjective

He took a solitary walk on the beach. A solitary house stood on top of the cliff. Most cats are solitary creatures. He's a very solitary man.

Noun

The prisoner was kept in solitary. weary of European civilization, the painter Paul Gauguin famously abandoned France to become a solitary in the South Seas
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Since the midterms, in which many suburban voters turned against the president, the Democrats’ solitary political strategy has been that Mr. Trump would self-destruct.... Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "Trump Flipped the Opposition," 6 Feb. 2019 The new movie Arctic, out February 1, opens with the main character already several weeks into a solitary subsistence. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "8 Essential Tips from 'Arctic,' the Best Survival Movie in Years," 1 Feb. 2019 Manning, who’s now 31, spent a substantial amount of time in solitary confinement before her trial, in addition to years in prison afterwards. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Chelsea Manning Has Been Imprisoned for Resisting a Grand Jury Investigation. Here’s Why She Should Be Freed," 11 Mar. 2019 Setchell points out how much social variability exists just within the great apes: gorilla groups are often based around just one male; male chimps form coalitions; and orangutans are solitary. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Gorillas that are great with kids are also luckier in love," 18 Oct. 2018 Toth had previously observed that smaller males spent more time in their roosts, which tended to be solitary, and sang more frequently. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Like Birds, Some Bats Warble to Woo Their Mates," 13 June 2018 While solitary confinement is, of course, necessary in certain circumstances, its misuse can cause mental and physical damage that has been well documented. Theresa Vargas, Washington Post, "‘No relief in sight’: Hundreds of Virginia inmates languish in solitary confinement for years, groups find.," 22 May 2018 These octopuses are solitary and occasionally cannibalistic. National Geographic, "Deepest Octopus Nursery Discovered, Holds Dark Secret," 20 Apr. 2018 His previous studio, in Bay View, was too solitary for an artist who thrives on collaborative work. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee's Wheelhouse creates hub for small businesses operated by young entrepreneurs," 9 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

SOLITARY: INSIDE RED ONION STATE PRISON (2017) 10 p.m. on HBO. Kathryn Shattuck, New York Times, "What’s on TV Monday: ‘Finding Dory’ and ‘Gender Revolution: A Journey With Katie Couric’," 6 Feb. 2017

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for solitary

Adjective

Middle English, solitarie, from Anglo-French, from Latin solitarius, from solitas aloneness, from solus alone

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Statistics for solitary

Last Updated

29 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for solitary

The first known use of solitary was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for solitary

solitary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of solitary

: without anyone or anything else : not involving or including anyone or anything else
: done by a person who is alone
: separate from other people or things

solitary

adjective
sol·​i·​tary | \ ˈsä-lə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce solitary (audio) \

Kids Definition of solitary

1 : all alone : without anyone or anything else a solitary traveler
2 : seldom visited : lonely a solitary seashore
3 : growing or living alone : not one of a group or cluster solitary insects

solitary

adjective
sol·​i·​tary | \ ˈsäl-ə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce solitary (audio) \

Medical Definition of solitary

: occurring singly and not as part of a group a solitary lesion

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More from Merriam-Webster on solitary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with solitary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for solitary

Spanish Central: Translation of solitary

Nglish: Translation of solitary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of solitary for Arabic Speakers

Comments on solitary

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