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 The film tells the story of two lonely people (played by Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen) who meet each other by chance in the Helsinki night. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 10 May 2023 Libra September 23-October 22 Feeling good about yourself could be a lonely experience. Tarot Astrologers, Chicago Tribune, 3 May 2023 Being lonely is thus a serious threat to both your physical and mental health. Omer Awan, Forbes, 3 May 2023 But, Griffard said, people shouldn’t worry too much about Murphy being sad or lonely when that happens. Praveena Somasundaram, Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2023 There are women in this novel, too—Fatima, a modern dancer who works in the local coffee shop; Bea, a lonely teacher and artist in her thirties—whose experiences are carefully rendered but barely impinge on the central narrative. Michael W. Clune, Harper’s Magazine , 10 Apr. 2023 One is a lonely number Jon Wilner of The Bay Area News Group hinted that movement could be imminent. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, 5 Apr. 2023 If dark energy is just the cosmological constant, with no variation, our universe will expand eternally into a very lonely place; in this scenario, all the stars beyond our local cluster of galaxies would be invisible to us, too red to be detected. Briley Lewis, Popular Science, 20 Mar. 2023 Kuana Torres Kahele stars as Uku, a beautiful yet lonely volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Sydni Ellis, Peoplemag, 17 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lonely.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 31 May. 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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