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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English [Term?], borrowed from Latin sōlitārius.


solitary (countable and uncountable, plural solitaries)

  1. (countable) One who lives alone, or in solitude; an anchoret, hermit or recluse.
  2. (uncountable) Solitary confinement.
    The prisoners who started the riot were moved to solitary.


solitary (not comparable)

  1. Living or being by oneself; alone; having no companion present
    • 2013 June 8, “Obama goes troll-hunting”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8839, page 55:
      The solitary, lumbering trolls of Scandinavian mythology would sometimes be turned to stone by exposure to sunlight. Barack Obama is hoping that several measures announced on June 4th will have a similarly paralysing effect on their modern incarnation, the patent troll.
  2. Performed, passed, or endured alone
    a solitary journey
    a solitary life
  3. Not much visited or frequented; remote from society
    a solitary residence or place
  4. Not inhabited or occupied; without signs of inhabitants or occupation; desolate; deserted
    the solitary desert
    • 1769, Bible (King James Version), Lamentations 1.1
      How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people!
    • 1931, Francis Beeding, “1/1”, in Death Walks in Eastrepps:
      Eldridge closed the despatch-case with a snap and, rising briskly, walked down the corridor to his solitary table in the dining-car.
  5. gloomy; dismal, because of not being inhabited.
  6. Single; individual; sole.
    a solitary example
    • 2018 December 1, Tom Rostance, “Southampton 2 - 2 Manchester United”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      That makes it almost half a season with just a solitary win, and Mark Hughes' side will reflect on a costly capitulation at the end of the first half after fine goals from Stuart Armstrong and Cedric Soares had seemingly put them in control.
  7. (botany) Not associated with others of the same kind.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]



  1. (archaic) The Rodrigues solitaire (Pezophaps solitaria), an extinct flightless bird.