unpleasant emotional response to isolation

Loneliness is an emotional state in which a person experiences a powerful feeling of emptiness and isolation, of being cut off, disconnected from, and alienated towards other people. The lonely person may find it difficult or even impossible to have any form of meaningful human contact. The first recorded use of the word "lonely" was in William Shakespeare's Coriolanus.

Solitude, Jean-Jacques Henner


  • My people were once around me like the sands of the shore—many—many. They have all passed away. They have died like the grass. They have gone to the mountains. I do not complain; the antelope falls with the arrow. I had a son. I loved him. When the palefaces came he went away. I do not know where he is. I am a Christian Indian; I am all that is left of my people. I am alone.
    • "An aged Indian of Dolores," as reported in Congressional Series of United States Public Documents, Volume 688
  • There walked a lonely man, silent, mute, the only man
    Not knowing how, not knowing why was he the sole survivor
    Why should he be alive, breathing still while others died
    And the only question, why was he the sole survivor?
    Sole survivor, cursed with second sight
    Haunted saviour, cried into the night.
    • Blue Oyster Cult, "Sole Survivor", from Fire of Unknown Origin (1981), lyrics by Erik Bloom, John Trivers, and Liz Myers.
  • Only in a house where one has learnt to be lonely does one have this solicitude for things. One's relation to them, the daily seeing or touching, begins to become love, and to lay one open to pain.
    • Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1938), Part II, Ch. II, p. 193.
  • It's not that I hate people, I just feel better when they're not around.
  • Who knows what true happiness is? Not the conventional word but the naked terror. To the lonely themselves, it wears a mask. The most miserable outcast hugs some memory or some illusion.
  • What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?
    • George Eliot, Middlemarch (1871–72), Book V, Chapter XLIV.
  • It is loneliness that makes the loudest noise. This is as true of men as of dogs.
    • Eric Hoffer, "Thoughts of Eric Hoffer, Including: 'Absolute Faith Corrupts Absolutely'", The New York Times Magazine (April 25, 1971), p. 55.
  • The lonelier you are, the more you pull away, until humans seem an alien race, with customs and a language you can't begin to understand.
  • The Savage interrupted him. "But isn't it natural to feel there's a God?"
    "You might as well ask if it's natural to do up one's trousers with zippers," said the Controller sarcastically. "You remind me of another of those old fellows called Bradley. He defined philosophy as the finding of bad reason for what one believes by instinct. As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons–that's philosophy. People believe in God because they've been conditioned to.
    "But all the same," insisted the Savage, "it is natural to believe in God when you're alone–quite alone, in the night, thinking about death …"
    "But people never are alone now," said Mustapha Mond. "We make them hate solitude; and we arrange their lives so that it's almost impossible for them ever to have it."
We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.
~ Aldous Huxley
  • We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies — all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.
  • Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.
  • Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.
    • Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections (1963), p. 356.
  • It has been said that people of the modern world suffer a great sadness, a "species loneliness"—estrangement from the rest of Creation. We have built this isolation with our fear, with our arrogance, and with our homes brightly lit against the night.
  • It's pointless to cry. One is born and dies alone.
  • Men who have a tempestuous inner life and do not seek to give vent to it by talking or writing are simply men who have no tempestuous inner life.
    Give company to a lonely man and he will talk more than anyone.
  • Insults have broken my heart and left me weak, I looked for sympathy but there was none; I found no one to comfort me.
  • Sometimes I feel
    Like I don't have a partner
    Sometimes I feel
    Like my only friend
    Is the city I live in
    The city of angels
    Lonely as I am
    Together we cry
    It's hard to believe
    That there's nobody out there
    It's hard to believe
    That I'm all alone
    At least I have her love
    The city, she loves me
    Lonely as I am
    Together we cry.
  • A man with no friends, only live for revenge
    Live his life off the henge, cut, through a thousand men
    Blade swing with the force of a cyclone
    Cut crystal and bone, pistol and chrome
    Stand in my path, you're a dead man
    I cut the whole world in half for the Number One headband
    Quest of a lonely soul, on a lonely road
    • RZA, Afro Samurai Theme (2007).
  • Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, cars, sidewalks, stores. Everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man.
  • I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.
  • Never does the soul feel so far from human life as when a man finds himself alone in the vistas of the moon, either in the streets of a sleeping city, the avenues of the woods, or by the border of the sea. Earth, swayed perhaps by her powerful satellite, withdraws her sympathy from him, and he wanders in a white void, wondering if he was born to be thus annulled.
  • We suffer a lot in our society from loneliness. So much of our life is an attempt to not be lonely: 'Let's talk to each other; let's do things together so we won't be lonely.' And yet inevitably, we are really alone in these human forms. We can pretend; we can entertain each other; but that's about the best we can do. When it comes to the actual experience of life, we're very much alone; and to expect anyone else to take away our loneliness is asking too much.
  • Such a lonely day / And it's mine / The most loneliest day of my life.

See also

  •   Encyclopedic article on Loneliness on Wikipedia
  •   The dictionary definition of Loneliness on Wiktionary