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


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


solitarily \ˌsä-lə-ˈter-ə-lē \ adverb
solitariness \ˈsä-lə-ˌter-ē-nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for solitary

Synonyms: Adjective

alone, lone, lonely, lonesome, single, solo, unaccompanied

Synonyms: Noun

hermit, recluse

Antonyms: Adjective


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Choose the Right Synonym for solitary


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


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.


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

Highnote, 59, of Bell, Florida, lived such a solitary existence that authorities have been able to find only one picture of him -- his driver's license photograph. Dakin Andone, CNN, "Gunman had 'intent to kill' the day he shot 2 Florida deputies, sheriff says," 27 Apr. 2018 For a while, the vocation lent Barry’s solitary existence a semblance of meaning. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "The Goofy and Dead-Serious Profundity of Bill Hader in “Barry”," 24 Mar. 2018 The scene is domestic but alludes to a quiet, if not solitary existence along the river in the dead of winter. Rafael Francisco Salas, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'The Open Road' a photographic journey through America," 12 Feb. 2018 Sergio Correa told Judge Hillary Strackbein that he was placed in solitary a week ago at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers. David Owens,, "Sergio Correa, Charged In Griswold Triple Slaying, Complains Of Prison Treatment," 9 July 2018 And street demonstrations of any sort, even solitary ones, require a police permit that would be hard to come by given the circumstances. Richard C. Paddock, New York Times, "Tightly Guarded, Singapore Battens Down for a Summit Meeting," 8 June 2018 Street demonstrations of any sort, even solitary ones, require a police permit that would be hard to come by, given the circumstances. Richard C. Paddock,, "Tightly guarded, Singapore battens down for Korea talks," 8 June 2018 My mashed potato journey would therefore be a solitary one. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Making Nora Ephron’s Mashed Potatoes for One," 27 Apr. 2018 Reject challenges to capital punishment and solitary confinement. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "America under Brett Kavanaugh," 11 July 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


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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for solitary


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

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Phrases Related to solitary

solitary confinement

Statistics for solitary

Last Updated

27 Sep 2018

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



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


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


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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Comments on solitary

What made you want to look up solitary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

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