From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


English Wikipedia has an article on:


Etymology 1[edit]

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


solitary (countable and uncountable, plural solitaries)

  1. (countable) One who lives alone, or in solitude; an anchorite, hermit or recluse.
    • 1976 September, Saul Bellow, Humboldt’s Gift, New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, →ISBN, page 24:
      He brooded and intrigued fantastically. He was becoming one of the big-time solitaries. And he wasn't meant to be a solitary. He was meant to be in active life, a social creature.
  2. (uncountable) Solitary confinement.
    The prisoners who started the riot were moved to solitary.
  3. (uncountable) The state of being solitary; solitude
    • 1995, Alanis Morissette (lyrics and music), “All I Really Want”, in Jagged Little Pill:
      You must wonder why I'm relentless and all strung out/I'm consumed by the chill of 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
    • 1961 November, H. G. Ellison, P. G. Barlow, “Journey through France: Part One”, in Trains Illustrated, page 668:
      On once more we swung, bumping uneasily along in the antique narrow-gauge coach, with gloomy woods and gathering night outside, shouts and songs (and quacks) inside—this was not at all the sort of train ordained by the logical strategists in Paris—then grinding to a stop at a mysterious halt which was no more than a nameboard in the pinewoods, without even a footpath leading to it, but nevertheless with a solitary passenger stolidly waiting.
    • 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.