The Meaning of Solely: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of solely? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word solely, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word solely mean?

According to Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, the word solely, pronounced ˈsoʊ, is an adverb that means either alone, or to the exclusion of all else. This can be used to describe something that is literally or figuratively alone, such as someone going solely on some journey. It can also be used literally or figuratively to describe something that is exclusive of other things, such as a fantasy that exists solely in one’s mind. This word is commonly used in American English. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today!

There are many different languages that also use words that mean solely. You may notice that some of these words look or sound similar to each other, or are cognates for each other. This is probably due to the fact that they have similar origin. Many different languages in similar regions have similar origins. This list of translations for the word solely is provided by Word Sense.

  • Greek: μόνο‎ or αποκλειστικά‎ or απλώς‎ [και μόνο], εξ ολοκλήρου‎
  • French: uniquement‎, exclusivement‎, seulement‎
  • Norwegian: bare‎
  • German: nur‎, einzig und allein, ausschließlich‎, exklusiv‎, allein‎, alleinig‎
  • Esperanto: sole‎
  • Spanish: únicamente‎, solamente‎, exclusivamente‎
  • Czech: jedině‎, výhradně‎, pouze‎, výlučně‎
  • Portuguese: unicamente
  • Italian: solo

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word solely?

There are many different words and phrases that can be used in place of the word solely. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same or a similar definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you are trying not to repeat yourself or if you are trying to expand your current vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word solely is provided by Thesaurus

  • wholly
  • completely
  • undividedly
  • onliest
  • exclusively
  • barely
  • singly
  • entirely
  • but
  • totally
  • simply
  • purely
  • singularly
  • individually
  • merely
  • only
  • alone
  • single-handedly

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word solely, which are known as antonyms. Antonyms are also useful to know if you are trying to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word solely is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • hand in glove
  • in unison
  • hand in hand
  • unanimously
  • on the beat
  • in one breath
  • in sync
  • contemporaneously
  • all together
  • in cooperation
  • concertedly
  • mutually
  • with the beat
  • closely
  • with one accord
  • with one voice
  • unitedly
  • collectively
  • side by side
  • as one
  • coincidentally
  • conjointly
  • combined
  • en masse
  • commonly
  • concurrently
  • jointly
  • as a group
  • concomitantly
  • simultaneously
  • synchronically
  • together
  • at one fell swoop
  • in concert
  • in a body 

How can the word solely be used in a sentence?

The word solely is fairly common and can be used in many different sentences and circumstances. In this first example, Mattie is trying to convince her friend Jemma that she is not being selfish.

Jemma: Admit it, Mattie. You didn’t invite me to the party because you wanted to look cool in front of all your senior friends and didn’t want another freshman tagging along to make you seem younger and less cool.

Mattie: Jemma, that’s not true. I didn’t even think you would want to go. You wouldn’t have even liked it there. 

Jemma: That’s such a lie, Mattie. Just admit it. All of your motivations were for solely selfish reasons. 

Here, Jemma uses the word solely to imply that Mattie’s actions were done for the sole purpose of being selfish. In this next example, Jemma and Mattie are talking about the school dance. Things are still tense between them.

Mattie: Are you going to the dance with anyone?

Jemma: I don’t know. Why?

Mattie: Well, the thing is… my senior friends are all gonna go as a group. And they invited me to go with them. And it’s their last year of homecoming and we can always go together next year and–

Jemma: Save it, Mattie. I’ll go solely to the dance and you can have a great time thinking you’re so cool because you hang out with seniors. Leave me alone.

Here, Jemma says that she is going to go solely to the dance, implying that she is going to go alone and does not want to go with Mattie, especially if Mattie doesn’t want to go with her. In this final example, Jemma is talking to her mom about her and Mattie’s friendship.

Jemma: I thought we were best friends. But I guess our friendship solely exsted in my mind, because she would clearly rather hang out with anyone but me.

Mom: Jemma, I’m sure that’s not true.

What is the origin of the word solely?

According to Etymonline, the word solely has been used as an adverb since the late 15th century. This comes directly from the adjective sole. The word sole has been used since the late 14th century to refer to something that is single or along. This comes from the Old French soul meaning only or alone. This comes from the Latin solus meaning alone or only. This term is of unknown origin, but it is suspected to be related to the word se meaning oneself, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European reflexive root swo.

Overall, the word solely is an adverb that is used to refer to things that are alone or things that are done exclusive of all else. This term can either be used literally or figuratively, and is commonly used in many different sentences and circumstances. The word solely is of Latin origin.