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In the early 18th century, a person living in seclusion, a recluse; also, a precious stone, usually a diamond, set by itself.

From the mid 18th century, the term was also given to a game for one player, as a form of patience, or a game played by removing pegs one at a time from a board by jumping others over them from adjacent holes, the object being to be left with only one peg.

The word comes from Latin solitarius ‘solitary’.

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