lone·​ly ˈlōn-lē How to pronounce lonely (audio)
lonelier; loneliest
: being without company : lone
too many lonely nights at home
: cut off from others : solitary
the train stopped frequently at lonely little stationsRobert Hichens
: not frequented by human beings : desolate
a lonely spot in the woods
: sad from being alone : lonesome
He was feeling lonely without his wife and children.
: producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation
it's a lonely thing to be a championG. B. Shaw
loneliness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for lonely

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

Example Sentences

He was lonely without his wife and children. She was a lonely child with few friends. It was lonely living out in the country. She spent too many lonely nights at home. She had a lonely childhood. a lonely spot in the woods a lonely stretch of road See More
Recent Examples on the Web In this innovative if imperfect play by Hansol Jung, set in Seoul, two lonely people meet online and have to deal with the complications of love in the digital age. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Mar. 2023 The show featured a band of stoic, lonely figures in a dystopian arena of howling wind and driving snow. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, 20 Mar. 2023 Amelia Island On Amelia Island, located just south of the Georgia border, marshy grasslands stretch to the horizon, golden beaches unspool for mile after lonely mile, and shrimp and grits are a staple on local menus. Terry Ward, Travel + Leisure, 19 Mar. 2023 But the real future of the genre, of pushing boundaries and trying something fresh with the form to varying degrees of success, seems to lie in these smoky back rooms where the lonely few get to tell us the whispers of their hearts. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 17 Mar. 2023 The waning days of a film festival can be bittersweet, even lonely. A.a. Dowd, Chron, 16 Mar. 2023 Almost 80% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 report feeling lonely. Rina Raphael, Los Angeles Times, 2 Mar. 2023 Being open and honest about feeling lonely and wanting to make a change gives other people a chance to look out for opportunities for you. Alexa Mikhail, Fortune Well, 23 Feb. 2023 In 2018, the BBC carried out the world’s largest loneliness study and found that 40% of 16 to 24-year-olds reported feeling lonely. Andrea Wigfield, CNN, 14 Feb. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lonely.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lonely was circa 1598

Dictionary Entries Near lonely

Cite this Entry

“Lonely.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lonely. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


lone·​ly ˈlōn-lē How to pronounce lonely (audio)
lonelier; loneliest
: not visited by human beings : desolate
a lonely spot
: lonesome sense 1
feeling lonely
loneliness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on lonely

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