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Recluse vs Hermit vs Eremite vs Anchorite vs Cenobite

Recluse, hermiteremiteanchoritecenobite all designate a person who lives apart from the world usually in order to devote himself to prayer, contemplation, and penance.

Recluse and hermit are also applied to persons who avoid intercourse with men for other than religious motives, but even in such extended use they retain their original distinguishing implications, for recluse stresses retirement from the world and the life of the world into seclusion but not necessarily into physical isolation and hermit, a solitary life lived apart from men and usually in a place or under conditions where there is little likelihood of intrusion.

Recluse is the broader term; it may be applied to a hermit or to a religious who lives in a cloistered community.

Hermit is often applied to a member of one of the very few religious orders (as the Carthusians) whose members dwell alone and meet other members of the community only in church and in the refectory on Sundays.

Eremite, archaic as a variant of hermit, is sometimes chosen to unequivocally designate a solitary who is under a religious vow. Anchorite and cenobite are contrasted terms for the two leading types of recluses in the Eastern and in the Western Church.

Anchorite designates the type known as hermit or eremite; cenobite, the type that dwells in a community, especially a strictly cloistered community of monks or nuns.