1. State of being alone, or withdrawn from society; a lonely life; loneliness. "Whosoever is delighted with solitude is either a wild beast or a god." (Bacon) "O Solitude! where are the charms That sages have seen in thy face?" (Cowper)

2. Remoteness from society; destitution of company; seclusion; said of places; as, the solitude of a wood. "The solitude of his little parish is become matter of great comfort to him." (Law)

3. Solitary or lonely place; a desert or wilderness. "In these deep solitudes and awful cells Where heavenly pensive contemplation dwells." (Pope)

Synonyms: Loneliness, soitariness, loneness, retiredness, recluseness. Solitude, Retirement, Seclusion, Loneliness.

Retirement is a withdrawal from general society, implying that a person has been engaged in its scenes. Solitude describes the fact that a person is alone; seclusion, that he is shut out from others, usually by his own choice; loneliness, that he feels the pain and oppression of being alone. Hence, retirement is opposed to a gay, active, or public life; solitude, to society; seclusion, to freedom of access on the part of others; and loneliness, enjoyment of that society which the heart demands. "O blest retirement, friend to life's decline." (Goldsmith) "Such only can enjoy the country who are capable of thinking when they are there; then they are prepared for solitude; and in that [the country] solitude is prepared for them." (Dryden) "It is a place of seclusion from the external world." (Bp. Horsley) "These evils . . . Seem likely to reduce it [a city] ere long to the loneliness and the insignificance of a village." (Eustace)

Origin: F, from L. Solitudo, solus alone. See Sole.

(01 Mar 1998)

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