Lone wolf is an idiom that came into use around the turn of the twentieth century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, hit the nail on the head, kick the bucket, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom lone wolf, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.
A lone wolf is someone who does not socialize with others, a person who prefers solitude, a person who lives, works, and relaxes in isolation. Though the behavior of a lone wolf is tolerated if that person does not appear to be a threat, people are often suspicious of someone who is a lone wolf. Mass murderers and terrorists are often described as lone wolves, so the general population believes a lone wolf should be watched. The idiom lone wolf first appeared in the late 1890s, and is derived from a phenomenon in nature. Wolves are normally pack animals, but sometimes a wolf is driven from the pack and must survive on its own. A lone wolf is often more aggressive or stronger than a wolf that belongs to a pack, out of necessity. The plural of lone wolf is lone wolves.
The incident is being treated as a ‘lone wolf’ attack, according to police. (The Mirror)
“Lone attackers,” known to Israeli security services as ‘lone wolf’ attackers, “as opposed to cells or organizations, generally perpetrate these kinds of attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
“I’m a lone wolf, I am not one of anyone, I’m an observer.” (The Sunday Star Times)
“That’s why the image of the wolf is in our logo, and we use that image a lot – whether you’re a lone wolf or travelling in a pack, we got ya covered.” (The Coast Reporter)