1. Existing, living, or going without others; alone: a solitary traveler. See Synonyms at alone.
2. Happening, done, or made alone: a solitary evening; solitary pursuits such as reading and sewing.
3. Remote from civilization; secluded: a solitary retreat.
4. Zoology Living alone or in pairs only: solitary wasps; solitary sparrows.
5. Single and set apart from others: a solitary instance of cowardice.
n. pl. sol·i·tar·ies
1. A person who lives alone; a recluse.
2. Solitary confinement.
[Middle English, from Old French solitaire, from Latin sōlitārius, from sōlitās, solitude, from sōlus, alone; see s(w)e- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
sol′i·tari·ly (-târə-lē) adv.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.