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  1. a person who has withdrawn to a solitary place for a life of religious seclusion.
  2. any person living in seclusion; recluse.
  3. Zoology. an animal of solitary habits.
  4. Ornithology. any of numerous hummingbirds of the genera Glaucis and Phaethornis, having curved bills and dull-colored rather than iridescent plumage.
  5. a spiced molasses cookie often containing raisins or nuts.
  6. Obsolete. a beadsman.

Origin of hermit

1175–1225; Middle English ermite, hermite, heremite < Old French < Late Latin erēmīta < Greek erēmītḗs living in a desert, equivalent to erḗm(ia) desert (derivative of erêmos desolate) + -ītēs -ite1
Related formsher·mit·ic, her·mit·i·cal, her·mit·ish, adjectiveher·mit·i·cal·ly, adverbher·mit·like, adjectiveher·mit·ry, her·mit·ship, nounun·her·mit·ic, adjectiveun·her·mit·i·cal, adjectiveun·her·mit·i·cal·ly, adverb

Synonyms for hermit

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for hermit


  1. one of the early Christian recluses
  2. any person living in solitude
Derived Formshermitic or hermitical, adjectivehermitically, adverbhermit-like, adjective

Word Origin for hermit

C13: from Old French hermite, from Late Latin erēmīta, from Greek erēmitēs living in the desert, from erēmia desert, from erēmos lonely
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hermit

early 12c., "religious recluse," from Old French (h)eremite, from Late Latin ermita, from Greek eremites, literally "person of the desert," from eremia "desert, solitude," from eremos "uninhabited, empty, desolate, bereft," from PIE *ere- (2) "to separate" (cf. Latin rete "net," Lithuanian retis "sieve"). Transferred sense of "person living in solitude" is from 1799. The hermit crab (1735) was so called for its solitary habits.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper