Etymology
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lonely (adj.)

c. 1600, "solitary, lone; unfrequented," 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.

updated on August 18, 2016

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Definitions of lonely from WordNet

lonely (adj.)
characterized by or preferring solitude;
a lonely existence
Synonyms: lone / solitary
lonely (adj.)
lacking companions or companionship;
a lonely soul
a lonely fisherman stood on a tuft of gravel
Synonyms: alone / lone / solitary
lonely (adj.)
marked by dejection from being alone;
the loneliest night of the week
felt sad and lonely
Synonyms: lonesome
lonely (adj.)
devoid of creatures;
a lonely crossroads
Synonyms: solitary / unfrequented
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.