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Alternative forms[edit]


lonely +‎ -ness


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈloʊnlinəs/
  • (file)


loneliness (countable and uncountable, plural lonelinesses)

  1. A feeling of depression resulting from being alone or from having no companions.
  2. The condition or state of being alone or having no companions.
    • 1645, John Milton, Tetrachordon[4], page 7:
      Hitherto all things that have bin nam’d, were approv’d of God to be very good: lonelines is the first thing which Gods eye nam’d not good []
    • 1657, Richard Ligon, A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbados, London: Humphrey Moseley, Dedicatory letter to the Bishop of Salisbury,[5]
      [I] was designing a piece of Landscape [] wherein I meant to expresse [] the beauties of the Vegetables, that do adorn that place, in the highest perfection I could: But presently after, being cast into Prison, I was deprived both of light and lonelinesse, two main helpers in that Art []
    • 1837 February, Boz [pseudonym; Charles Dickens], “Treats of Oliver Twist’s Growth, Education, and Board”, in Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy’s Progress. [], volume I, London: Richard Bentley, [], published 1838, →OCLC, page 20:
      Wretched as were the little companions in misery he was leaving behind, they were the only friends he had ever known; and a sense of his loneliness in the great wide world sank into the child’s heart for the first time.
  3. The state of being unfrequented or devoid of human activity (of a place or time).
    • 1794, Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, London: G.G. & J. Robinson, Volume 4, Chapter 3, p. 50,[6]
      [] as she sat at her bed-side, indulging melancholy reveries, which the loneliness of the hour assisted []
    • 1877, Mayne Reid, chapter 4, in Gwen Wynn: A Romance of the Wye[7], volume 3, London: Tinsley Bros, page 34:
      In addition, the very loneliness of the road had its charm for him; since only at rare intervals is house seen by its side, and rarer still living creature encountered upon it.
    • 1953, C. S. Lewis, chapter 5, in The Silver Chair[8], New York: Scholastic, published 1987, pages 57–58:
      The rest was all flat marsh. It would have been a depressing place on a wet evening. Seen under a morning sun, with a fresh wind blowing, and the air filled with the crying of birds, there was something fine and fresh and clean about its loneliness.
  4. (obsolete) A desire to be alone; disposition to solitude.