Simple Definition of reticent
: not willing to tell people about things
Examples of reticent in a sentence
… his friends and associates are conspicuously reticent to discuss him in public. —Martin Flanagan, Manchester Guardian Weekly, 29 Dec. 1991
… two or three rather reticent abstract paintings. —Jay Jacobs, Gourmet, January 1979
An extremely reticent man, Morris does not like to talk about his experience in personal terms. —Helen Dudar, New York Times Magazine, 30 Oct. 1977
<the panel decided to investigate the fraud charges against the company, which has always been reticent about its internal operations>
<her husband is by nature a reticent person, and she resigned herself to that fact long ago>
Did You Know?
Reticent first appeared about 170 years ago, but the "reluctant" sense of "reticent" is a mid-20th century introduction. Though it is now well-established, this newer sense bothers some people, particularly because it has veered away from the word's Latin origins - "reticent" is from the verb "reticēre," meaning "to keep silent." But there is some sense in the way the newer meaning developed. We first tended to use the "reluctant" sense of "reticent" when the context was speech (as in "reticent to talk about her past"), thus keeping the word close to its "silent" sense. Eventually, however, exclusive association with speech was abandoned. Now one can be "reticent" to do anything.
Origin of reticent
Latin reticent-, reticens, present participle of reticēre to keep silent, from re- + tacēre to be silent — more at tacit
First Known Use: circa 1834
Synonym Discussion of reticent
Seen and Heard
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