alone (adj., adv.)
"unaccompanied, solitary; without companions," c. 1300, a contraction of all ane, from Old English all ana "unaccompanied, all by oneself," literally "wholly oneself," from all "all, wholly" (see all) + an "one" (see one). It preserves the old pronunciation of one.
Similar compounds are found in German (allein) and Dutch (alleen). The sense of "and nothing else" is from c. 1200, as in "Man does not live by bread alone" (Matthew iv.4, KJV; there Tyndale has "man shall not lyve by brede onlye"). Related: Aloneness. Adverbial alonely seems to have become obsolete 17c.
updated on September 18, 2022