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Etymology 1[edit]

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


solitary (countable and uncountable, plural solitaries)

  1. One who lives alone, or in solitude; an anchoret, hermit or recluse.
  2. (uncountable) solitary confinement


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
  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.