The English word "lonely" has at least a couple different uses. A person can be lonely — we all know, and have probably felt, this meaning of the word. But also a place can be lonely. A lot of people refer to NYC and London as lonely cities.

I wanted to know, what are the different Latin words for "lonely", and what are their different connotations? I have come up with two candidates myself, solum and desertum, and I'm wondering whether solum is better suited to people or things, and desertum to places.

Is there a Latin word that has connotations similar to the English "lonely", e.g. sadness?

  • In what sense are NYC and London lonely? I'm not sure I understand what you are after.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 7:18
  • 1
    @JoonasIlmavirta Here's a use of the phrase: quora.com/…. I think the sense is this: the cities are so fast-paced and competitive that people have a hard time forming real, lasting friendships. But I'm not 100% sure of my take.
    – ktm5124
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 7:28
  • Fortunately the word I ended up suggesting seems general enough to cover that. But of course there might another idiomatic choice of words one should know.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 7:46

1 Answer 1


For a lonely place I would use the noun solitudo. L&S describes it, among other things, as "loneliness", "solitude (of a person or place)", and "a lonely place". This word refers to the state of loneliness in a broader sense than any English word. I would probably use this word for all of the cases you describe.

If you want to cry "how lonely!" as you did in the chat, one possible Latin translation would be qualis solitudo! There might be other ways of forming such exclamations with nouns, but qualis has famous precedent. Remember the famous qualis artifex pereo! by Nero?

You may view it as a problem or an opportunity, but bear in mind that solitudo is a noun, unlike the English "lonely". If you want an adjective instead, I would recommend the related solitarius. I would be ready to use this for all of your example cases, but that doesn't mean that there wouldn't be more idiomatic choices for some other situations.

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