Definition of solitary in English:



  • 1Done or existing alone.

    ‘I live a pretty solitary life’
    ‘tigers are essentially solitary’
    • ‘From this encounter, Paley assures us, our solitary walker could be sure of one thing: a man - a thinking being - has been this way.’
    • ‘Electronic musicians tend to be a solitary bunch and like to work alone in home studios.’
    • ‘It also sanctifies the idea of the reclusive, solitary genius at the expense of the artist who engages with society and the world at large.’
    • ‘A solitary bad person sitting alone, harbouring genocidal thoughts, and wishing he ruled the world is not a problem unless he lives next to us in the trailer park.’
    • ‘I was a solitary boy, shy and withdrawn, who preferred to be left alone to read.’
    • ‘And so I think that there really are many forms of courage, although the one that I think most of us respond to is the solitary figure who really does risk it all.’
    • ‘Unlikely - I've always been rather a solitary type, enjoying my own company and taking holidays alone.’
    • ‘And yet-such is the naïve openness of one's solitary thoughts it took only a little change of light for me to see the matter differently.’
    • ‘A mate who doesn't need your help may prove aloof and solitary.’
    • ‘Gone are my constant internet access, my masses of free alone time, my lengthy solitary lunches.’
    • ‘But l must do them alone, and lately I cannot be solitary.’
    • ‘Another legend of Taoism said Zhao Gongming originally came from Zhongnan Mountain and lived a remote and solitary life to practise his skills.’
    • ‘I think most people in witchcraft or paganism practise in a solitary way,’ she said.’
    • ‘His existence is solitary (because his pursuits go unrecognised/unvalued) and (in every sense) misguided.’
    • ‘The beginning of the book describes his mostly solitary existence, the noises and sights of the press, and it's beautifully personal and focused.’
    • ‘Shrek himself (voiced by Mike Myers) is an unpleasant, solitary ogre who lives alone in a swamp.’
    • ‘This project is a sculptural work that stemmed from my interest in sci-fi, technology, and the impulse for relaxation or solitary meditation.’
    • ‘You describe yourself as an isolated, solitary kid, and then you moved into writing, which is often a solitary profession.’
    • ‘‘That one over there,’ he said, nodding at a solitary figure in the distance which tripped and stumbled along the edge of the main road.’
    • ‘I dined in solitary state, all alone in the castle's gilt-and-blue dining hall.’
    lonely, companionless, unaccompanied, by itself, by oneself, on its own, on one's own, alone, all alone, friendless
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    1. 1.1 (of a place) secluded or isolated.
      ‘solitary farmsteads’
      • ‘Only the lights of a solitary highway showed the earth leaping ever closer.’
      • ‘Calm and motionless, wholly focused on the surveillance of those below, the two men watched from their solitary position of concealment.’
      • ‘People sometimes have the feeling that by going to a solitary place where the environment is quiet, they will experience peace and happiness.’
      • ‘So he took to caves and solitary places for severe penance and meditation.’
      • ‘They began an anxious search, and eventually they found him in the solitary place where He had gone to pray.’
      • ‘Ben left his horse tethered to the low-hanging branches of a slender pine and walked the short distance to the solitary grave.’
      • ‘Christmas Island is remote and solitary, and its gentle beauty can change within seconds when the north-westerly monsoons lash the island.’
      • ‘In this dark solitary place, married to this shy, watchful man, her cheerfulness was a bubble-bath in a blizzard.’
      • ‘I was so wrapped up in confusion and suspicion that I forgot to wonder why Jacquiline would want me to meet her privately in a solitary room.’
      • ‘The third door to your right leads into an old solitary room.’
      • ‘So in order to avoid the police and stares of the public, he kept to the solitary alleys.’
      • ‘I still find this extremely disconcerting so I went in search of a solitary place to relax.’
      • ‘With a scoff, she turned and headed back into her solitary fortress… but those icy green eyes still haunted the shadowy corners of her mind.’
      • ‘Every moment of my life instead of feeling happy, I wanted to run into a solitary room and just cry and cry and cry.’
      • ‘And from this solitary passageway, the Demon Prince Dearth, along with a number of followers, entered on horseback.’
      • ‘The solitary field is often stocked with brown Welsh mountain sheep.’
      • ‘In 1926, he withdrew himself in to a solitary room and cut himself from the outer world.’
      • ‘It's a rugged, wild, solitary place with phenomenal tides and massive seas.’
      • ‘His nights and days were spent in solitary places where silence reigned supreme.’
      • ‘What I wanted most was to be in the same position, and not to see the future as a solitary road.’
      isolated, remote, out of the way, outlying, off the beaten track, in the depths of …, hard to find, lonely, in the back of beyond, in the hinterlands, off the map, in the middle of nowhere, godforsaken, obscure, inaccessible, cut-off, tucked away, unreachable
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    2. 1.2 (of a bird, mammal, or insect) living alone or in pairs, especially in contrast to related social forms.
      ‘a solitary wasp’
      • ‘Masonry or mortar bees are referred to as solitary bees, a class that also includes mining and carpenter bees.’
      • ‘While a few hydrozoans, such as Hydra, are solitary polyps, most live in colonies made up of anywhere from a few to thousands of individual polyps.’
      • ‘Other faunal elements include colonial and solitary corals, encrusting bryozoans, stromatoporoids, and rare brachiopods.’
      • ‘All previous reports of orchid pollination through pseudocopulation involve solitary wasps or bees.’
      • ‘However, little is known about costs of parental investment in insects, particularly in solitary as well as social aculeate Hymenoptera.’
    3. 1.3 (of a flower or other part) borne singly.
      ‘each spider-like bloom is solitary’
      • ‘Pelliciera has solitary flowers that are accompanied by two large coloured prophylls.’
      • ‘The capitula were small, in lax panicles or, rarely, solitary.’
      • ‘Petioles of huge solitary leaves of mature plants of Amorphophallus resemble tree trunks supporting an umbrella-like crown.’
      • ‘All plants of O. parryi var. parryi sampled were solitary and all plants were shorter than one meter.’
      • ‘The solitary flowers are borne on long, wiry pedicels.’
  • 2attributive, often with negative Single; only.

    ‘we have not a solitary shred of evidence to go on’
    • ‘Unfortunately it was a solitary shiny penny gleaming out of a pool of mud.’
    • ‘I spotted the occasional solitary example in the distance, but I was encumbered with a camera.’
    • ‘Laid out before you, you have 73 different types of fruit - a succulent, juicy example of every variety you can think of - but not one single, solitary apple.’
    • ‘Against Galway United a solitary goal was enough; the famous victory over Stella Maris relied on Niall O'Brien's late intervention.’
    • ‘The United States struck back to restrict Ian Thorpe and Australia to one solitary silver medal on day four of the Olympics.’
    • ‘Dozens of officers forming a Guard of Honour snapped to attention as the procession, headed by two mounted officers and the solitary drummer, sombrely approached the building.’
    • ‘Nancy & Lee also had a solitary UK hit single: the glorious, saucy, surreal ‘Did You Ever?’’
    • ‘Every single, solitary person admitted was female.’
    • ‘Like the most popular girl at school, you'd be hard pressed to find a single, solitary fault with the group.’
    • ‘Amidst the many ruffians scattered about the bar, this visitor wearing a brown cotton suit with matching cream tie stood out like a solitary star in the nighttime sky.’
    • ‘It seems like the whole idea of the merger is being exploited to the point where absolutely no two solitary concepts or institutions are left alone.’
    • ‘But it was, sadly, Ireland's solitary response.’
    • ‘Instead, they occupy solitary locations within the genome.’
    • ‘It all hinged on the fact that Boro didn't have more to show for that sparkling first half display other than one solitary goal scored in the 10th minute which was credited by most to an Alfreton defender!’
    • ‘When I'm out running on my lunch hour, not once have I watched in awe as a fellow runner sprints toward me sporting a solitary track shoe.’
    • ‘Everything is in my book, like every single solitary thing that has happened to me in my life, I put out there.’
    • ‘A contemptuous demolition of their continental colleagues over the course of 18 qualifying matches included 13 wins and a solitary defeat, by Brazil.’
    • ‘In the Under-14 final, Selby Olympia enjoyed the narrowest of victories over Heworth winning by a solitary goal, scored in the first-half of a tense final.’
    • ‘In the distance he could see a solitary fighter plane - they flew there all the time for refuel and repair, so not an unusual sight.’
    • ‘One day, in a fit of extreme frustration, I sent in a single solitary letter voicing my said opinion about the magazine's quality.’
    single, lone, sole, unique, only, one, individual
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  • 1A recluse or hermit.

    ‘he had something of the solitary about him’
    • ‘We have no degrees or initiations, although a few members have expressed an interest in having initiations because, as solitaries, they feel they missed this group experience.’
    • ‘But then, upon reflection, it dawned on me that everyone who practices the Craft is, at their very core, an eclectic solitary.’
    • ‘The Pagan literature aimed at beginners, the vast majority of whom are solitaries, always praises the virtues of an outdoor ritual.’
    • ‘I have met solitaries that did write their own rituals out, but when it came down to writing a ritual to involve others they were at a loss.’
    • ‘Accordingly Oram encases the vast garden-jungle set inside a circular drum, implying that Williams's characters are themselves deranged solitaries.’
    • ‘The virtue of this production is that it reminds us that most of Chekhov's characters are solitaries trapped inside their own skins.’
    • ‘I agree with Robert Campbell and Archon Fung that Americans have not significantly become detached social solitaries, ‘bowling alone,’ as Robert Putnam concluded.’
    • ‘For the significance of the outlaw to Dylan is less that of the rebel and more the solitary who rejects established religion for the direct inspiration of truth.’
    • ‘As community members and solitaries, we need to be aware of our own personal path before we step into the larger community.’
    • ‘His jaw dropped, and I felt ashamed of my answer, for who was I to so speak to a Brother, even if he be a solitary?’
    • ‘This question applies with particular acuteness to the situation of hermits or solitaries.’
    • ‘Our covens and groves are as sovereign as our solitaries, and they need to remain so.’
    • ‘Before I started on this path, I assumed all solitaries were lonely, removed from the Pagan community, or just plain not serious about their spirituality.’
    • ‘Similarly, ask a roomful of Pagan solitaries what their religion is, and you are as likely as not to get a similar number of answers.’
    • ‘The support system a member of a coven enjoys is not available to a solitary.’
    • ‘I was originally thinking of solitaries, but I guess alienation might work just as well.’
    • ‘Frostian solitaries love to challenge fate and to assert their hard-won visionary power while deprecating their epiphanic achievement with comic whimsy.’
    • ‘Who would have thought that Christian solitaries from the Egyptian desert of late antiquity would speak with such authority to us today?’
    • ‘He says to the ‘Outcasts of America… We make theater, we make community ’, thus finding a way to ‘entertain and educate the solitaries that make up a community’.’
    • ‘Though widely read Lyautey was not a pensive solitary.’
    loner, lone wolf, introvert, recluse, hermit
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  • 2informal

    • ‘Consequently, a further 200 prisoners who did a solitary stretch may now seek a wad of cash, courtesy of the taxpayer, taking the total to millions of dollars.’
    • ‘After leaving solitary, he will ultimately be sent to a different minimum-security facility.’
    • ‘Does he get punished, does he ever get in the solitary?’


Middle English: from Latin solitarius, from solus ‘alone’.