AskDefine | Define loner

Dictionary Definition

loner n : a person who avoids the company or assistance of others [syn: lone wolf, lone hand]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. One who is alone, lacking or avoiding the company of others.


one who lacks or avoids company


Extensive Definition

A loner is a label for a person who avoids, or is isolated from human interaction. There are many reasons for solitude, intentional or otherwise. Various mental illnesses and social difficulties can be linked to reclusiveness; however no specific cause is implied by the term loner, and many friendly, outgoing people also suffer from mental and social problems. The term loner is usually used with a negative connotation in the belief that humans are social creatures and those that do not participate are different. The label has often been applied pejoratively by the media to individuals deemed strange or pathetic. The loner may take pride or be ashamed of his or her behavior.
In some cases there is a certain romanticism in the idea of the Loner, or "Lone Wolf" (see The Lone Ranger) since he or she is seen as special and unique. This can be attributed to the notion that truly great people often lurk in the shadows of societies that espouse corrupt and superficial standards of existence. As a result, the concept of a lonely hero is a recurring theme in stories.

Possible reasons

Some individuals refuse to interact with others because of perceived or actual superiority in terms of ethics or intellect. They relate only to individuals they consider worthy of their time and attention. Therefore, this type of loner will have very few intimate relationships. Many non-loners feel anxious in their presence because they perceive the loner's disdain towards them; it is also common for such people to believe that loners are arrogant and egoistic.
Loners may socialize greatly with those in whom they can confide. It takes a long time for this bond to occur and when someone unknown to a loner enters the social group, the loner will automatically shell up. Shy or lacking self-esteem, some loners can socialize only with people they see constantly. This is in part due to the fact that many are overly self-conscious and believe people are constantly sizing up their attributes. Insecure loners find it excruciating to be in the physical presence of others because they worry they will be judged negatively. Anxiety is a common feature of their social interactions. Self-hatred is sometimes the underlying motivation for why a person may isolate himself or herself. A sense of alienation from society can develop as a result.

Possible characteristics

While expressing a desire to be alone most of the time, loners do not necessarily reject human contact entirely. An example would be the person who shuns any social interaction with work colleagues beyond what is necessary for fulfilling his or her job description (mainly for practical reasons and to avoid further complicating one’s professional relationships) but who is highly charismatic during parties or social gatherings with people outside work.

Historical Loners

Visual arts

Fictional loners

See also

loner in German: Einzelgänger
loner in Swedish: Enstöring
loner in Tagalog: Mapag-isa

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Diogenes, Hieronymian, Hieronymite, Timon of Athens, alien, anchoress, anchorite, ascetic, bedridden invalid, careerist, case, character, cloistered monk, closet cynic, crackpot, crank, desert fathers, desert saints, eccentric, egotist, eremite, fanatic, fortune hunter, hermit, hermitess, hobo, hog, homebody, individualist, invalid, isolationist, kook, lone wolf, marabout, maverick, meshuggenah, monopolist, narcissist, natural, nonconformist, nut, odd fellow, oddball, oddity, original, outcast, outsider, pariah, pillar saint, pillarist, queer duck, queer fish, queer specimen, rara avis, recluse, road hog, screwball, seclusionist, self-advancer, self-pleaser, self-seeker, self-server, shut-in, solitaire, solitary, solitudinarian, stay-at-home, stylite, temporizer, timepleaser, timeserver, tramp, tufthunter, type, zealot
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