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

More than 4,000 of them had been placed in solitary for more than 15 days. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, "ICE review found failures in care of mentally ill detainee who died by suicide," 22 Aug. 2019 Only half the time were detainees put in solitary because of disciplinary violations, according to ICE records. NBC News, "Number of ICE detainees in solitary confinement rises during Trump administration," 14 Aug. 2019 As Buttigieg noted, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture recommends no more than 15 days in solitary and an absolute ban on its use for juveniles and people with mental illnesses. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Biden’s Big, Obvious Ideas for Criminal-Justice Reform," 24 July 2019 Those in solitary spent at least twenty-two hours a day in their cells. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "Photo Requests from Solitary Confinement," 8 July 2019 Even Texas, with more prisoners in solitary than any other state—about 4,000 as of 2017—is reducing its numbers. The Economist, "What it’s like to spend half a life in solitary confinement," 5 June 2019 One out of every 200 detainees ends up in solitary at some point, according to the data. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "ICE Is Holding LGBTQ and Disabled Detainees in Solitary Confinement, Report Says," 23 May 2019 Erick Williams spent eight years in solitary confinement in the disciplinary unit, where inmates could only make outside calls a maximum of four times a month. BostonGlobe.com, "reports about the use of solitary confinement, including the length of stints and the number of people under 21 or with diagnosed mental health problems who are placed in the units.," 16 Sep. 2019 This includes ending money bail and fines that criminalize poor and low-income people, and ending the federal death penalty and solitary confinement. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything You Need to Know About Kamala Harris's Policies Before the Election," 13 Sep. 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

11 Oct 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 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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