There are a few definitions of lonely but they all share the same qualities: solitude, the absence of human company, and not a lot of exciting stuff going on.

If being alone makes you sad, that’s one definition of lonely: the depressing feeling you get when no one else is around. Being alone doesn’t have to be a bummer, and sometimes lonely simply means preferring to be by yourself, like the lonely poet who takes long walks in the woods. Mars is a lonely planet because no life can survive there, and on a cross country trip you’ll drive down many long and lonely roads.

Definitions of lonely

adj lacking companions or companionship

“a lonely fisherman stood on a tuft of gravel”
“a lonely soul”
alone, lone, solitary
being without an escort

adj marked by dejection from being alone

“felt sad and lonely
“the loneliest night of the week”
affected or marked by low spirits

adj characterized by or preferring solitude

“a lonely existence”
lone, solitary
not seeking or given to association; being or living without companions

adj devoid of creatures

“a lonely crossroads”
solitary, unfrequented
not having inhabitants; not lived in

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a life-long learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.