noun, plural sol·i·tar·ies.

Origin of solitary

1300–50; Middle English < Latin sōlitārius alone, by itself, solitary, equivalent to sōlit(ās) solitude (sōl(us) sole1 + -itās -ity) + -ārius -ary
Related formssol·i·tar·i·ly, adverbsol·i·tar·i·ness, nounun·sol·i·tar·y, adjective

Synonyms for solitary

1. lone. 7. isolated, retired, sequestered, remote. 9, 10. hermit, recluse. 10. eremite. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for solitary

Contemporary Examples of solitary

Historical Examples of solitary

  • How can I go on as I am, a solitary curse to myself, a living disgrace to every one I come near!

  • "Would that I had half the courage for my quest," I mused, and walked slowly back to the solitary lodge.

  • During the rest of the four-and-twenty hours it seemed to be occupied by a solitary angler, catching chiefly seaweed.

  • For Mary Matchwell, at the Mills, the tidings which had thrown the town into commotion had but a solitary and a selfish interest.

    The House by the Church-Yard

    J. Sheridan Le Fanu

  • As far as Sir Norman could see, no other human being but himself and the solitary watchman, so often mentioned, were visible.

    The Midnight Queen

    May Agnes Fleming

British Dictionary definitions for solitary



following or enjoying a life of solitudea solitary disposition
experienced or performed alonea solitary walk
(of a place) unfrequented
(prenominal) single; solea solitary speck in the sky
having few companions; lonely
(of animals) not living in organized colonies or large groupssolitary bees; a solitary elephant Compare social (def. 7), gregarious (def. 2)
(of flowers) growing singly

noun plural -taries

a person who lives in seclusion; hermit; recluse
informal short for solitary confinement
Derived Formssolitarily, adverbsolitariness, noun

Word Origin for solitary

C14: from Latin sōlitārius, from sōlus sole 1
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 solitary

mid-14c., "alone, living alone," from Old French solitaire, from Latin solitarius "alone, lonely, isolated," from solitas "loneliness, solitude," from solus "alone" (see sole (adj.)). Meaning "single, sole, only" is from 1742. Related: Solitarily; solitariness. As a noun from late 14c.; from 1854 as short for solitary confinement (that phrase recorded from 1817).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper