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adjective re·luc·tant \ri-ˈlək-tənt\

Simple Definition of reluctant

  • : feeling or showing doubt about doing something : not willing or eager to do something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of reluctant

  1. :  feeling or showing aversion, hesitation, or unwillingness <reluctant to get involved>; also :  having or assuming a specified role unwillingly <a reluctant hero>

reluctantly adverb

Examples of reluctant in a sentence

  1. 94% of the butterflies are females, and they jostle for the attention of the few males, who seem reluctant suitors. —Carl Zimmer, Science, 11 May 2001

  2. The man swore sullenly. He went over to a corner and slowly began to put on his coat. He took his hat and went out, with a dragging, reluctant step. —Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, 1893

  3. The woman seemed desirous, yet reluctant, to speak, and answered, in low, mysterious tone. —Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852

  4. When I missed five in a row and was reluctant to take the next shot or didn't really follow through, my teammates would yell, “Brick!” —Bill Bradley, New York Times, 18 Dec. 1994

  5. We were reluctant to get involved.

  6. He might agree but seems reluctant to admit it.

Origin of reluctant

Latin reluctant-, reluctans, present participle of reluctari to struggle against, from re- + luctari to struggle

First Known Use: 1667

Synonym Discussion of reluctant

disinclined, hesitant, reluctant, loath, averse mean lacking the will or desire to do something indicated. disinclined implies lack of taste for or inclination <disinclined to move again> <disinclined for reading>. hesitant implies a holding back especially through fear or uncertainty <hesitant about asking for a date>. reluctant implies a holding back through unwillingness <a reluctant witness>. loath implies hesitancy because of conflict with one's opinions, predilections, or liking <seems loath to trust anyone>. averse implies a holding back from or avoiding because of distaste or repugnance <averse to hard work> <not averse to an occasional drink>.

RELUCTANT Defined for Kids


adjective re·luc·tant \ri-ˈlək-tənt\

Definition of reluctant for Students

  1. :  showing doubt or unwillingness <She was reluctant to go.>

reluctantly adverb

Seen and Heard

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to expose to danger or risk

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