soliloquy

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

1595–1605; From Late Latin sōliloquium in the title of St. Augustine's Soliloquiorum libri duo (Two Books of Soliloquies), from sōlus (only, sole) + loquor (I speak).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • enPR: səlĭlʹəkwē, IPA(key): /səˈlɪləkwi/
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Noun[edit]

soliloquy (countable and uncountable, plural soliloquies)

  1. (drama) The act of a character speaking to themselves so as to reveal their thoughts to the audience.
    Coordinate term: aside
    At the end of the second act the main villain gave a soliloquy detailing his plans to attack the protagonist.
  2. (authorship) A speech or written discourse in this form.
    Synonym: monologue
    Antonyms: colloquy, dialogue, dialog
    • 1835, William Gilmore Simms, The Partisan, Harper, Chapter XI, page 135:
      The feeling of Singleton's bosom grew heightened in its tone of melancholy, and a more passionate emphasis of thought broke forth in his half-muttered soliloquy:— ¶"How I remember as I look []
    • 1976, Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Kindle edition, OUP Oxford, published 2016, page 126:
      Here is a very over-simplified example, this time expressed in the form of a subjective soliloquy rather than a computer simulation.

Usage notes[edit]

Primarily used of theater, particularly the works of William Shakespeare, as a term of art, particularly for finely-crafted speeches. An archetype is the “To be, or not to besoliloquy in Hamlet. In informal speech or discussions of popular culture, the term monologue is used instead. However, the terms are not precisely synonymous; a monologue is held in the presence and directed towards other characters on the stage, whereas a soliloquy does not acknowledge the presence of any other stage characters if present, and is directed to the audience.

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Verb[edit]

soliloquy (third-person singular simple present soliloquies, present participle soliloquying or soliloquing, simple past and past participle soliloquied)

  1. (very rare) To issue a soliloquy.

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