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[lohn-lee] /ˈloʊn li/
adjective, lonelier, loneliest.
affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome.
destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.:
a lonely exile.
lone; solitary; without company; companionless.
remote from places of human habitation; desolate; unfrequented; bleak:
a lonely road.
standing apart; isolated:
a lonely tower.
Origin of lonely
1600-10; lone + -ly
Related forms
lonelily, adverb
loneliness, lonelihood, noun
unlonely, adjective
1. See alone. 4. uninhabited, unpopulated. 5. secluded. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lonely
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "I think it is because she has been so lonely all her life," suggested Farr.

    The Landloper Holman Day
  • It is their virtue in life to be lonely, and none but the lonely man in tragedy may be great.

    Riders to the Sea J. M. Synge
  • She told him one day how lonely she was for women's companionship.

    Why Joan? Eleanor Mercein Kelly
  • I am a lonely man, my sweeting, and I must settle some day when the wars are over and done.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The latter had surprised her husband and the Irish governess, tête-à-tête in the lonely pavilion, late in the evening.

    The Key to the Bront Works John Malham-Dembleby
British Dictionary definitions for lonely


adjective -lier, -liest
unhappy as a result of being without the companionship of others: a lonely man
causing or resulting from the state of being alone: a lonely existence
isolated, unfrequented, or desolate
without companions; solitary
Derived Forms
loneliness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lonely

c.1600, "solitary, lone," from lone + -ly (1). Meaning "dejected for want of company" is from 1811. Lonely heart (n.) "a lonely-hearted person" is from 1922. Lonely hearted (adj.) is attested from 1820.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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