Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is it proper to call someone a lone lonely loner?

I take lone to mean the only, lonely to mean feeling sad and loner to mean someone who prefers being alone. So, the usage kind of makes sense to me. Does it actually or is it just redundant word play?

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The phrase is grammatically sound, but whether it is proper to so call someone is an issue of etiquette or of particular facts rather than of language, as noted in a later paragraph.

The definitions of lonely include both "unhappy by feelings of loneliness" and "without companions; solitary" so there is an interpretation in which lone is redundant with lonely, in addition to the interpretation you gave.

Proper also has multiple meanings, including both "suited or acceptable to the purpose or circumstances; fit, suitable" and "following the established standards of behavior or manners; correct or decorous." Whether your phrase is proper in the first sense depends on the facts of the situtation; and for the second sense, mostly on etiquette and in part on adhering to convention. It is unconventional or uncommon to call someone a "lone lonely loner" so in that sense perhaps a touch improper to do so.

share|improve this answer
    
I wasn't looking for a moral angle but your reasoning sounds proper :) Thanks ! –  pavithramouli Dec 6 '11 at 4:38
add comment

It might make a better word play to say "the only lonely loner", with only and lonely rhyming and lonely and loner contrasting (as jwpat7 and CJM have noted). The (playful) implication would be (imho) that while, normally a loner wouldn't be lonely, this one is.

share|improve this answer
    
interesting angle.. thanks ! –  pavithramouli Dec 6 '11 at 4:51
add comment

As jwpat7 says, it is grammatically sound, but outside of poetic licence, I'm not sure I would recommend it.

Personally, I'd object to lonely and loner together. Lonely = feeling sad because one is alone, because one seeks company. Whereas you rightly suggest a loner prefers being alone.

You could argue that a loner might be such because they have become accustomed to being alone, and perhaps find it difficult to function alongside others, but in general, I would assume a loner actually prefers to being alone, and thus would unlikely be lonely.

If we are talking of literature, poetry and lyrics, then it's fair game. Otherwise, I'd simplify the phrase...

share|improve this answer
    
thanks CJM. A loner sure prefers being alone, but what if it is just because he tried being with others and was disappointed ? Then he could resign himself to be alone and still feel sad(lonely). Does this make sense ? –  pavithramouli Dec 6 '11 at 4:43
    
I agree, a loner could be reluctantly resigned such. But in general, it's less likely. Out of interest, what is the context for this question? –  CJM Dec 8 '11 at 9:24
    
I heard this used somewhere and was contemplating on the usage. Sorry for the late response, didn't notice this comment. –  pavithramouli Dec 14 '11 at 8:52
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.