A person is alone when there are no other people around. A person is lonely when the presence of other people is missed. Neither implies the other; you can be lonely but not alone or alone but not lonely.

Can this distinction be made in Latin? If yes, is the contrast attested somewhere?

The words can be adverbs (alone), adjectives (lonely), nouns (loneliness), pronouns (solus), or anything else. The two words or expressions need not match the grammatical roles of the English counterparts, I just want to be able to make the semantic distinction. I know some words in the right direction (e.g. solus, solitudo) but I don't know whether or how to use them for this purpose.


There seems to be a lot of overlap in the meaning of the words that can be used, so I believe context is necessary to make the distinction clear.

However, in the following passage, solitarius and desertus seem to have been used to describe the feelings associated with loneliness, whereas solitudo (or solus as an adjective.) was used to refer to being alone. (At least that's how I'm reading it.)

Sed fortasse quaerat aliquis a nobis idem illud, quod apud Ciceronem quaerit Hortensius: Si Deus unus est, quae esse beata solitudo queat? Tamquam nos, qui unum esse dicimus, desertum ac solitarium esse dicamus. (Lactantius, Institutiones Divinae, Book I, ch. 7)

Here's a translation:

But perchance some one may ask of us the same question which Hortensius asks in Cicero: If God is one only, what solitude can be happy? As though we, in asserting that He is one, say that He is desolate and solitary.

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