Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the
Desert Theology of the
Old Testament (i.e., the 40 years wandering in the desert that was meant to bring about a change of heart).
In the Christian tradition the eremitic life
 is an early form of
monastic living that preceded the monastic life in the
Rule of St Benedict (ch. 1) lists hermits among four kinds of
monks. In the
Roman Catholic Church, in addition to hermits who are members of
religious institutes, the
Canon law (canon 603) recognizes also
diocesan hermits under the direction of their
bishop as members of the
consecrated life. The same is true in many parts of the
Anglican Communion, including the
Episcopal Church in the US, although in the canon law of the Episcopal Church they are referred to as "solitaries" rather than "hermits".
Often, both in religious and secular literature, the term "hermit" is also used loosely for any Christian living a
secluded prayer-focused life, and sometimes interchangeably with
recluse and "solitary". Other religions, for example,
Taoism, also have hermits in the sense of individuals living an ascetic form of life.
In modern colloquial usage, "hermit" denotes anyone living apart from the rest of society, or simply participating in fewer social events, for any reason.