solitary

adjective
sol·​i·​tary | \ ˈsä-lə-ˌter-ē \

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 \ adverb
solitariness \ ˈsä-​lə-​ˌter-​ē-​nəs \ 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

Four years of tedious meetings and solitary film sessions. Paul Newberry, The Seattle Times, "Walk-ons are obscure backbone of Clemson, Bama powerhouses," 6 Jan. 2019 His drinking precipitously descends from country-club conviviality to solitary stupor, and the novel ends with his suicide by carbon-monoxide inhalation in his Cadillac, a clean, modern way to go. Jamie James, WSJ, "‘John O’Hara: Four Novels of the 1930s’ Review: Big Fish in Small Towns," 3 Jan. 2019 And a lawsuit filed earlier this year alleged that Latino youths at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Virginia were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells. Garance Burke, The Seattle Times, "AP Investigation: Migrant kids held in mass shelters," 19 Dec. 2018 The two had routinely met once or twice a year after his conviction and their conversations typically lasted eight hours or more, with the two discussing legal issues and Bulger telling stories, relieved for the break from solitary confinement. Zusha Elinson, WSJ, "Whitey Bulger Thought He Was Headed to Hospital Before Death, Lawyer Says," 9 Dec. 2018 Manafort remains in solitary confinement in a federal detention center in Alexandria, Virginia, waiting for a judge to set a sentencing date. Kenneth P. Vogel, The Seattle Times, "Manafort tried to broker deal with Ecuador to hand Assange over to U.S.," 3 Dec. 2018 Group hikers logged an average of 135 minutes per hike compared to the 100 minutes logged by solitary hikers. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "The 2 Things That Will Help Motivate You to Be More Active, According to a New Strava Report," 28 Nov. 2018 Similarly, my first, pre-launch experience with Dark Souls was hampered by the lack of an online community to leave in-game hints or invade my solitary dungeon crawl. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Observations and lessons from two decades of writing about video games," 25 Nov. 2018 Many types of solitary wasps prey on specific cockroach species. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 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

18 Jan 2019

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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 \

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 \

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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