See more synonyms for solitary on
  1. alone; without companions; unattended: a solitary passer-by.
  2. living alone; avoiding the society of others: a solitary existence.
  3. by itself; alone: one solitary house.
  4. characterized by the absence of companions: a solitary journey.
  5. done without assistance or accompaniment; done in solitude: solitary chores.
  6. being the only one: a solitary exception.
  7. characterized by solitude, as a place; unfrequented, secluded, or lonely: a solitary cabin in the woods.
  8. Zoology. living habitually alone or in pairs, as certain wasps.Compare social(def 11).
noun, plural sol·i·tar·ies.
  1. a person who lives alone or in solitude, or avoids the society of others.
  2. a person who lives in solitude from religious motives.
  3. solitary confinement.

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

See more synonyms for on
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

  • In these solitary tours he was busy and happy, working and playing.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Here he cooked and ate his meals, and here he spent his solitary evenings.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Like a sentinel on that solitary plain it overwhelms me with a sense of mystery.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • When a man is bitten by a snake in a solitary place he is in God's hands.

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

  • It was my bringing up, I fancy, which made me a solitary lad.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

British Dictionary definitions for solitary


  1. following or enjoying a life of solitudea solitary disposition
  2. experienced or performed alonea solitary walk
  3. (of a place) unfrequented
  4. (prenominal) single; solea solitary speck in the sky
  5. having few companions; lonely
  6. (of animals) not living in organized colonies or large groupssolitary bees; a solitary elephant Compare social (def. 7), gregarious (def. 2)
  7. (of flowers) growing singly
noun plural -taries
  1. a person who lives in seclusion; hermit; recluse
  2. 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