Definition of hermit in US English:



  • 1A person living in solitude as a religious discipline.

    • ‘Carmelites world wide, men and women, see themselves in the tradition of the early medieval hermits who withdrew to the caves of Mt Carmel in Palestine in imitation of the Prophet Elijah's life of contemplation.’
    • ‘For several years, Benedict lived as a hermit in a cave at Subiaco, where the Roman Emperor Nero had had a villa centuries earlier.’
    • ‘Even the hermit was expected to supply the needs of the sick and the destitute through the money he earned from his own handicraft.’
    • ‘It is bedrock biblical wisdom that the human person was not created for isolation; the way of the hermit has always been the cautious exception rather than the rule in the Christian tradition.’
    • ‘Towards the end of his life, he became a hermit and lived among holy men.’
    • ‘I'm sure there are hermits living in the hills of Haiti who have served the Lwa all their life and are mighty in Legba's magick, who have never set foot in a peristyle.’
    • ‘Since, according to the legend, she retired as a hermit, her example could be employed to sing the praises of the contemplative life.’
    • ‘These hermits, acting as their own spiritual guides, were easily led to excesses and misdirection.’
    • ‘His ascetic aspirations did not make him wish to be a hermit.’
    • ‘Valaam, on a beautiful island in Lake Ladoga near the Finnish border, is once again home to both monks and hermits.’
    • ‘The anonymous author of the Libellus classified monks and canons into three groups based on whether they lived far from men, like the Cistercians, or close to men, like the Victorines, or as hermits.’
    • ‘As a form of asceticism, celibacy's heroic demands are more at home with a hermit in the desert or a monk in a monastery than with a priest ministering in today's highly charged sexual atmosphere.’
    • ‘Christian monasticism evolved from the hermit communities founded in the 3rd century by men fleeing from Roman persecution to the Egyptian and Syrian deserts, where they sought union with God.’
    • ‘The heroine, Portia, about to arrive home, is reported to be kneeling at holy crosses in the company of a hermit.’
    • ‘Some hermits lived in the desert; some gathered in loose communities.’
    • ‘Secular idleness would have little meaning in solitude, and the religious contemplation of the hermit or monk is not in question here.’
    • ‘Many of these hermits are also visionaries, an idea which comes out of tales of mystic saints like Teresa of Avila and Francis of Assisi, who were close to real-life Christian shamans.’
    • ‘Advocates of economic modernization, such as Abbot Matthew ‘the Poor,’ sometimes found Samuel's preoccupation with third-century hermits obscurantist.’
    • ‘Desiring to find the source of this even greater power, Christopher went off in search of Christ, and was encouraged by a pious hermit to become a living ferryman over a great river.’
    • ‘But this was just to touch at the first impressions of a land where hermits, monks and pilgrims remain part of the essential tapestry of life.’
    recluse, solitary, loner, ascetic
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Any person living in solitude or seeking to do so.
      • ‘Her entire life collapsed; what few social skills she had dissolved, and she became a reclusive hermit, an outcast in Amherst society.’
      • ‘Though not hermits or recluses, they do enjoy their own space to ruminate about what makes the world go round not to mention what makes people tick.’
      • ‘And he was a hermit, a recluse or what have you, or something like it.’
      • ‘The Michelin Man was created in 1898 by a crazed German hermit named Berthold Heinz-Dieter who lived in a junkyard.’
      • ‘A blogroll shows that you are part of a community rather than a solitary hermit separating yourself from the unwashed masses.’
      • ‘If you think about people who choose to be solitary, hermits, suchlike, they can have quite deprived environments in terms of stimulation and be very isolated but they do so from choice and, as they see it, for a higher purpose.’
      • ‘It is something that we will never stop being fascinated in, until one day we all become hermits and live in solitary caves.’
      • ‘People left their hearths and home to live the life of a recluse and a hermit in deserts and mountains.’
      • ‘I think in a way I am a hermit and I've always said that.’
      • ‘You have got to be a little bit of hermit this season.’
      • ‘Sam Beam may boast a mountain man's beard and home-taping origins, but his steady output as Iron & Wine over the last two years has proved he's no hermit.’
      • ‘Being stuck in a studio in front of the computer all day probably has something do with this - you become an introspective, insular hermit.’
      • ‘One night his troops encounter an old Asiatic hermit named Dersu Uzala, who lives in the wilderness, surviving by hunting and selling furs.’
      • ‘The Grinch is a yellowish green (or maybe a greenish yellow) hermit who lives on the top of Mount Crumpet with his erstwhile companion Max, a dog whose loyalty knows no bounds.’
      • ‘In Maynard's book, Salinger came across as a crank, drinking his own urine and eating macro-biotic food, a misanthrope and a hermit who had got out of the kitchen even before the heat was turned up.’
      • ‘The hard-working Swanevelt spent so little time carousing with his compatriots in their haunts around the Piazza di Spagna, Rome, that he was given the Bentvueghel nickname of Heremiet, or hermit.’
      • ‘The hermit, the bachelor uncle, the reclusive genius, all have their place; I think it was once more recognised than today, when everyone is supposed to be good at relationships even if they're no good at anything else.’
      • ‘Happy Ahmed is going to steal a lot of Ritalin and run away to become some filthy hermit, discarding the ideals that society heaps upon him in an act of truth to self and an experiment in exclusive morality.’
      • ‘They would sneak along the creek to where it just passed the back of the farmhouse belonging to Jonathan Lawson, an uppity old hermit who insisted he owned the creek.’
      • ‘But Mychael didn't understand why one had to channel magic in the first place, or why Will and Caleb had been so shocked when that ancient hermit had done magic without channeling.’
      recluse, solitary, loner, ascetic
      View synonyms
  • 2A hummingbird found in the shady lower layers of tropical forests, foraging along a regular route.

    Phaethornis and other genera, family Trochilidae: several species

    • ‘A local guide took us out the first morning for a half-day of birding, including a visit to a lek of performing green hermit hummingbirds, and then got us on our way to the Canopy Tower, a short distance north of the city.’
    • ‘Asymmetries in the character transition curves describing these zones suggest that Townsend's warblers have a selective advantage over hybrids and hermits.’
    • ‘The pattern of introgression found by Rohwer and Wood predicts that Townsend's males will be superior to hermits in these behavioral measures.’


Middle English: from Old French hermite, from late Latin eremita, from Greek erēmitēs, from erēmos ‘solitary’.