I always thought that the adjective for “alone but not lonely” was “lonesome” but apparently “lonely” and “lonesome” mean the same thing:

What's the difference between "lonely" and "lonesome"

Is there an adjective for somebody who's alone but not... sad? For example, I'm an introvert. I've been telling people that I'm a lonesome person because I prefer being alone. Being alone does not make me feel lonely. However, now that I learned that “lonesome” and “lonely” mean the same thing I'm wondering what adjective I'd use in place of “lonesome”.

  • 15
    If there were a single word for this then about 1/3rd of all the poetry in the world would never have been written. (And "lonely but not alone" accounts for about half of all poetry.)
    – Hot Licks
    May 28, 2017 at 0:30
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    Just use alone. It does not imply being lonesome. If you feel that you must add that you are not lonesome then do that. I know of no single word that means alone and not lonesome. (I also know of no single word that means thin and blue-eyed.)
    – Drew
    May 28, 2017 at 1:42
  • 1
    To help understand the difference, consider that I'm seldom lonely (in the sense of being sad) when I'm alone, frequently when I'm in a crowd of strangers.
    – jamesqf
    May 28, 2017 at 3:58
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    @jamesqf spot on -- ab-so-lyu-tely right! I FEEL that way most of the time. Maybe 'man is a social animal' is a gross generalisation based on the extrovert behavior of 65 - 70% of the species (just sayin'!) May 28, 2017 at 4:03
  • 3
    I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel. (It's not an adjective, but it is a classic.)
    – 1006a
    May 29, 2017 at 8:28

17 Answers 17


I believe solitary fits the bill...

: not gregarious, colonial, social, or compound

Most cats are solitary creatures.

from m-w.com

  • 8
    It still has a very negative connotation. The second definition of "solitary" from Merriam Webster is "saddened by isolation". I guess there's no positive connotation for "solitary" because most humans are very sociable and thus people perceive unsocial human beings as sad even though it isn't so. May 28, 2017 at 0:46
  • 24
    @AaditMShah-- disagree that "solitary" is necessarily negative in connotation. We often talk of solitary pursuits, e.g., writing and art-making require much alone time and are often pursued by people who like to be alone with their thoughts; such people are said to be solitary, or to enjoy the solitude of the studio. There is no inherent negative connotation here.
    – user227518
    May 28, 2017 at 4:08
  • 4
    This word does have some negative connotations, but it depends on your exposure to it. This word can be used as slang for "solitary confinement," which is an elevated punishment inflicted on a convict who is already imprisoned. The word is devoid of these negative connotations if the solitude is self-imposed.
    – Technetium
    May 29, 2017 at 17:17
  • 1
    "alone" just means ... "alone". As in "I wrote the book alone rather than with a collaborator." There's not the slightest sense of negativeness associated with it. You might as well say "empty" (say) suggests sadness.
    – Fattie
    May 30, 2017 at 1:20
  • 1
    I would also agree that solitary is not a negative thing. I, personally, am a very solitary person and I like it that way. It is simply my nature to crave solitude. The fact that others may consider it unenviable does not concern me, because I don't need their approval. It's part of being solitary. May 30, 2017 at 17:06

I'd suggest solo. Often used in contexts such as "solo bushwalk", "solo bike ride". "Going solo" has, if anything, positive connotations of self-reliance and independence.

(adjective) alone; without a companion or partner:

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/solo (def #10)

Here's an article entitled "When solo travel feels lonely", which seems to confirm that "solo"-ness is not, by default, lonely.

  • 3
    'Going solo' has nice connotations of 'alone'! The famous author Roald Dahl wrote a book-length memoir describing his experiences as a young adult and later as a fighter pilot in WW2, called 'Going Solo.' May 28, 2017 at 7:33
  • 2
    True, "solo" is "alone with a very positive spin".
    – Fattie
    May 30, 2017 at 1:20
  • Relevant comic: smbc-comics.com/comic/solo Jul 9, 2017 at 2:23

lone wolf : a person who prefers to work, act, or live alone - https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lone%20wolf

Normally a noun, but at a stretch you could use it as an adjective e.g. "A lone wolf guy"


(1) An apt adjective is self-contained which means quietly confident and self-sufficient, comfortably alone in a positive sense.

adjective: self-contained 1.(of a thing) complete, or having all that is needed, in itself. "every section of the painting is a self-contained unit" synonyms: complete, independent, separate, free-standing, enclosed 2. (of a person) quiet and independent; not depending on or influenced by others. "he's very self-contained"


(2) a good concept for your personal use: Aloneness is a word specifically used to mean 'alone' in a positive sense. Even if defined negatively as a synonym of solitude or loneliness in some standard dictionaries, it is used self-affirmingly as a contrast to loneliness which has negative connotations.

My sister who is an expert psychologist and ace in spirituality has suggested this word (which I had never heard of till now!) AND confirmed the positive connotation and usage of 'aloneness' as a positive attitude to being alone.

Example of usage: Loneliness vs. Aloneness: What’s the Difference? By Pragito Dove at Huffpost blog (These are not definitions but contrasting interpretations by the author.)

Loneliness is a lack, a feeling that something is missing, a pain, a depression, a need, an incompleteness, an absence.

Aloneness is presence, fullness, aliveness, joy of being, overflowing love. You are complete. Nobody is needed, you are enough.

My sister (who is herself an extrovert, but spiritual) asked me in relation to this question, "why should being alone be perceived as being lonely? When I am alone I am with myself."

I suspect that spiritually advanced people have reclaimed and redefined the word 'aloneness' specially to counter the negative connotations acquired by 'loneliness' because of the herd mentality that 'man is / must be a social animal.' However this word is not yet widely used and may only convey the meaning of loneliness if you use it to describe yourself to others, unless you are willing to explain its positive connotations.

See this article for the full text of the above extract:


  • 1
    "Aloneness" is a word that is hardly ever used. Such a word does little good if no one knows what it (supposedly) means.
    – Hot Licks
    May 28, 2017 at 3:00
  • @Hot Licks yes indeed it is so rare that I never read or myself! I have now edited my answer to include your warning that nobody will understand its positive connotations. However it might be useful to OP to express to oneself the positive sense of being alone but not lonely. Solitude/solitary is an appropriate choice suggested by Hellion; I think it has neutral tone, but it was apparently perceived by OP as having negative connotations. Hence I have suggested 'aloneness' for OP's interior if not exterior use! I have also suggested another word self-contained that might be a better option. May 28, 2017 at 3:18
  • Also, similarly, self-possessed.
    – Xanne
    Jun 4, 2017 at 6:38
  • @Xanne yes indeed: there are a few words prefixed self- that specifically give positive connotations to the meaning of alone / by oneself -- self-contained, self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-possessed. Jun 4, 2017 at 9:02

I would say self-sufficient here. This word has positive meaning and it could work in the described situation.


It's a noun, not an adjective, but you could use the term loner to convey your meaning. From Cambridge Dictionaries:

someone who prefers to be alone and to do things without other people

I think this most strongly conveys the fact that when you are alone it is by choice, and that you find the solitary state comfortable rather than lonely. It's also a term that has some fairly positive connotations, at least in US culture, conjuring up heroes who always stand a little bit apart, from John Wayne to Bruce Wayne. There's a certain "cool" factor to being a loner, as Pee-Wee Herman knew. (However, negative connotations of anti-social-ness also apply; see for example Batman, above.)

And if you really need an adjective, at a pinch you can use it attributively. For example:

So, the question is, for a loner engineer with no need to worry about distribution, supply, and other such factors, what materials common in our modern world would be rendered useless? ("What materials in modern culture would be useless to an engineer ahead of his time?", WorldBuilding SE)

And how do you develop a happy loner personality? ("I Am a Loner: The Happy Loner Personality", HealDove.com, January 10 2017)

So you could say things like:

I'm not lonely, I'm just a loner.

Eh, I'm not really up for the office holiday party. You know me, I'm kind of a loner.

I'm the loner-type, I don't do well in crowds.

Or, of course,

"You don't wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel." (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure)

  • 1
    Awesome answer. I really appreciate the amount of effort that you put into it for making it detailed. Hence, I started a bounty for to reward your effort. I'll award it to you after the 7 day period for maximum advocacy. Jun 1, 2017 at 16:23
  • I'm glad it helped!
    – 1006a
    Jun 1, 2017 at 16:51

How about "lone". There's the "Lone ranger" and there's also the "Lone Star State"


How about "on my own"? That seems to me to not have negative connotations.

True, "solo" can be seen as positive, too, but it seems to suit only activities rather than just states of being. You might say "I live on my own" or "I've spent the last few days on my own".


Independent indəˈpendənt/ adjective

  1. free from outside control; not depending on another's authority.

  2. not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.


Individualistic indivij(o͞o)əˈlistik/ adjective

  1. characterized by individualism; independent and self-reliant.

  2. marked by or expressing individuality; unconventional.


Recluse rek-loos, ri-kloos/ noun

  1. A person who lives in seclusion or apart from society, often for religious meditation.

adjective Also reclusive.

  1. shut off or apart from the world; living in seclusion, often for religious reasons.

  2. characterized by seclusion; solitary.


Think about solitude. It is a nice word, which perfectly describes the state of a person. Also good versions are on my own and solo.


Phrases I've heard used for this with positive connotations:

  • "I enjoy (or prefer) solitude."

  • "I highly value my alone-time."

But not....

  • "I really don't like people very much. In fact, would you please leave?"

One might say "single" or "singular," but I'm not sure that fits your connotation. How about one of the following? by oneself, on one's own, solitary, singly, solo, solus (my favorite for what I think you mean); unescorted, unaccompanied, partnerless, companionless (thank you Apple thesaurus).


Can fit couple of more related adjectives :

  1. restrained

  2. Close-mouthed

  • An adjective was asked
    – Helmar
    Jun 3, 2017 at 16:59
  • @Helmar changed to something better
    – sandip
    Jun 3, 2017 at 17:07

Solace may convey less negative connotations than solitude.

Definition from Oxford Dictionaries):

comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness.

This one explicitly states not being lonely, but implies being alone, whereas solitude implies being not lonely but explicitly states being alone.

  • Hi, welcome to EL&U! It's great that you've included a definition with your suggestion; I've Edited your answer to include a citation and link for the dictionary entry. If that's not the right entry, feel free to roll back the change and put in the correct citation. Also, you might want to check that this was the word/definition you meant to use; it doesn't look too me like the definition you included quite matches your description.
    – 1006a
    May 29, 2017 at 15:09
  • Where does any definition of solace imply solitude, especially since solace is something commonly "offered", and offering it does not mean offering to p*** off.... May 29, 2017 at 22:54

Solitary and Solo are good options as others have mentioned. Culturally, English has a slightly negative connotation for words that relate to removing oneself from society. So, it'll be a bit difficult to find one single adjective to encompass that in place of a more descriptive sentence.

Since you're introverted, a good description could be that you prefer solitude, as someone else suggested. This indicates a peaceful, quiet environment where you're by yourself, rather than one in which you have forcefully been removed (see Isolated) or have removed yourself for antisocial reasons (see Reclusive).

Another word that may suit your needs even better is "Unaccompanied." If you prefer to go out or be by yourself, you can say you prefer to go/be unaccompanied, for example. It's simple, clear, and to the point without necessarily conveying sadness or loneliness!


Monkish or hermitic is where one found (or trying to find) peace within oneself, so one isn't lonely but alone.


I guess "misanthropic" could be going just a bit too far. However if you do not like to be with other people, it can only be that you are antisocial. There times when we all like to be alone but if it is a permanent condition with a person it can only mean that you don't like the company of others. I think "misanthropic" would suit.

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