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

Morsi was held in solitary confinement for six years, largely denied access to family, friends and lawyers. Washington Post, "Egypt’s ousted president Morsi buried in Cairo after controversial courtroom death," 19 June 2019 But what happened to Mr. Palmer during two days in solitary confinement at the Pennsylvania lockup remains a mystery. New York Times, "A Prison Death, a Mysterious Autopsy and Official Silence," 18 June 2019 His group spent 2½ years investigating San Diego County jails, where there were 17 suicides from 2014 to 2016, and issued a report criticizing the system for excessive use of solitary confinement and punitive treatment of the mentally ill. Sharon Cohen, The Denver Post, "AP Investigation: Many U.S. jails fail to stop inmate suicides," 18 June 2019 His family said the 67-year-old Morsi suffered from ill health due to harsh conditions, including years of solitary confinement. Fox News, "The Latest: HRW says imprisoned Morsi's death 'predictable'," 18 June 2019 His youngest son, Abdullah Morsi, said in an interview with Agence France-Presse last year that his father was in solitary confinement and that medical conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes were going untreated. Laura King, latimes.com, "Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's death stirs memories of onetime democracy hopes," 17 June 2019 Morsi, who was known to have diabetes, had been imprisoned since his 2013 ouster, often in solitary confinement and barred from visitors — his family was allowed to visit only three times during that time. Samy Magdy, chicagotribune.com, "Egypt's former president Mohammed Morsi, ousted in 2013, dies in court while on trial, family says," 17 June 2019 Morsi, who was known to have diabetes, had been imprisoned since his 2013 ouster, often in solitary confinement and barred from visitors — his family was allowed to visit only three times during that time. Samy Magdy, Anchorage Daily News, "Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Morsi dies in court while facing trial," 17 June 2019 He was held in solitary confinement in Tora prison, notorious for its grim conditions. The Economist, "Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s only democratic ruler, dies in court," 17 June 2019

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

21 Jun 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

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