[ suh-lil-uh-kwee ]
/ səˈlɪl ə kwi /
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See synonyms for: soliloquy / soliloquies on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural so·lil·o·quies.
an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present (often used as a device in drama to disclose a character's innermost thoughts): Hamlet's soliloquy begins with “To be or not to be.”
the act of talking while or as if alone.
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Origin of soliloquy

1595–1605; <Late Latin sōliloquium a talking to oneself, soliloquy, equivalent to sōli-soli-1 + loqu(ī) to speak + -ium-ium; see -y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does soliloquy mean?

A soliloquy is a speech spoken to no one but oneself, even if other people are around. The word is most often used to describe such a speech in a play.

In a play, a soliloquy is performed alone, regardless of whether there are other actors present on the stage. Soliloquies are typically used to let the audience hear a character’s inner thoughts. In terms of theater, a soliloquy is different from a monologue, which is also a long speech, but is part of a conversation with someone else.

Example: The most famous soliloquy in theater is perhaps the one from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which begins “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”

Where does soliloquy come from?

Soliloquy comes from the Late Latin word sōliloquium, which has the same meaning (“a talking to oneself”). This is formed from the Latin sōli-, meaning “sole” or “alone” (as in solitary), and loqu(ī), meaning “to speak” (as in loquacious). The suffix -y is used to form abstract nouns, like inquiry. The first records of soliloquy come from around 1600.

In theater, there are no voice-overs to let the audience know what a character is thinking. Enter the soliloquy, which allows a character to express their inner thoughts through a speech, especially a lengthy one. The soliloquy was a commonly used device in the days of playwrights like Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, and its popularly continued for centuries. Twentieth-century playwrights like Arthur Miller still used soliloquies, but you’re probably less likely to see one in a modern production (perhaps because a character just standing there and talking to no one doesn’t seem all that realistic).

In everyday use, soliloquy is sometimes used as a synonym for monologue, but in the context of theater, they are technically different: a monologue is a long speech made by someone during a conversation with someone else, while a soliloquy is a speech by character that is not addressed to anyone. Both are different from an aside, in which a character addresses the audience.

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What are some other forms related to soliloquy?

  • hvnb

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How is soliloquy used in real life?

Soliloquy is most often used in the context of theater, but it is sometimes used to refer to real-life solo speeches. Sometimes people use it to mean just about the same thing as monologue.



Try using soliloquy!

In technical terms, how is a soliloquy different from a monologue?

A. It is performed to the audience.
B. The character is talking only to themself.
C. Other actors are present onstage.
D. It tells what the character is thinking.

How to use soliloquy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for soliloquy

/ (səˈlɪləkwɪ) /

noun plural -quies
the act of speaking alone or to oneself, esp as a theatrical device
a speech in a play that is spoken in soliloquyHamlet's first soliloquy

Word Origin for soliloquy

C17: via Late Latin sōliloquium, from Latin sōlus sole + loquī to speak

usage for soliloquy

Soliloquy is sometimes wrongly used where monologue is meant. Both words refer to a long speech by one person, but a monologue can be addressed to other people, whereas in a soliloquy the speaker is always talking to himself or herself
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