• (America) IPA: /ˈloʊnlinəs/


  1. A feeling of depression resulting from being alone or from having no companions.
    • 1782, Frances Burney, Cecilia (Burney novel), London: T. Payne et al., Volume 5, Book 10, Chapter 5, p. 274,
      Cecilia proposed to her the society of Henrietta, which, glad to catch at any thing that would break into her loneliness, she listened to with pleasure […]
    • 1948, Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country, New York: Scribner, Chapter 21, p. 154,
      We […] feel deep pity for a man who is condemned to the loneliness of being remarkable […]
    • 1997, Bob Dylan, “Marchin’ to the City,” The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989–2006,
      Loneliness got a mind of its own
      The more people around, the more you feel alone
  2. The condition or state of being alone or having no companions.
    • 1645, John Milton, Tetrachordon, p. 7,
      Hitherto all things that have bin nam’d, were approv’d of God to be very good: lonelines is the first thing which Gods eye nam’d not good […]
    • 1657, Richard Ligon, A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbados, London: Humphrey Moseley, Dedicatory letter to the Bishop of Salisbury,
      [I] was designing a piece of Landscape […] wherein I meant to expresse […] the beauties of the Vegetables, that do adorn that place, in the highest perfection I could: But presently after, being cast into Prison, I was deprived both of light and lonelinesse, two main helpers in that Art […]
    • 1838, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, London: Richard Bentley, Volume I, Chapter 2, p. 20,
      Wretched as were the little companions in misery he was leaving behind, they were the only friends he had ever known; and a sense of his loneliness in the great wide world sank into the child’s heart for the first time.
  3. The state of being unfrequented or devoid of human activity (of a place or time).
    • 1794, Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, London: G.G. & J. Robinson, Volume 4, Chapter 3, p. 50,
      […] as she sat at her bed-side, indulging melancholy reveries, which the loneliness of the hour assisted […]
    • 1877, Mayne Reid, Gwen Wynn: A Romance of the Wye, London: Tinsley Bros., Volume 3, Chapter 4, p. 34,
      In addition, the very loneliness of the road had its charm for him; since only at rare intervals is house seen by its side, and rarer still living creature encountered upon it.
    • 1953, C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, New York: Scholastic, 1987, Chapter 5, pp. 57-58,
      The rest was all flat marsh. It would have been a depressing place on a wet evening. Seen under a morning sun, with a fresh wind blowing, and the air filled with the crying of birds, there was something fine and fresh and clean about its loneliness.
  4. (obsolete) A desire to be alone; disposition to solitude.
    • circa 1602 William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well, Act I, Scene 3,
      […] I see
      The mystery of your loneliness, and find
      Your salt tears’ head: now to all sense ’tis gross
      You love my son […]
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