re·​luc·​tant | \ ri-ˈlək-tənt How to pronounce reluctant (audio) \

Definition of reluctant

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for reluctant


cagey (also cagy), disinclined, dubious, hesitant, indisposed, loath (also loth), reticent


disposed, inclined

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of reluctant in a Sentence

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 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 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 The woman seemed desirous, yet reluctant, to speak, and answered, in low, mysterious tone. — Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852 We were reluctant to get involved. He might agree but seems reluctant to admit it.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Public opinion in Spain as a whole is fairly reluctant to make concessions to Catalan nationalists. Pablo Fernandez-vazquez, Washington Post, "What just happened to Spain’s prime minister, and what’s the fallout?," 4 June 2018 The job cuts at Société Générale come as investment banks in Europe endured a particularly tough first quarter with a slew of economic and political challenges leaving companies reluctant to pursue deals or raise money. Ben Dummett, WSJ, "Société Générale to Cut Jobs Amid Europe’s Investment Banking Downturn," 9 Apr. 2019 Victoria’s Secret initially showed itself reluctant to change its long-standing brand profile. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Victoria’s Secret Is Bringing Back Its Bathing Suits," 21 Nov. 2018 The scientists The Verge spoke to were generally reluctant to connect the dots between Florence’s slow motion crawl through the Carolinas, and global warming. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Hurricanes stalling like Florence over the Carolinas may get even more common," 15 Sep. 2018 However, the Daily Mirror has reported that Xia remains unwilling and reluctant to deal with American investors as a result of the worsening relations between the United States and his native China., "Aston Villa Owner Tony Xia Reportedly Unwilling to Sell the Club to American Investors," 3 July 2018 Handcuffed to a beautiful but reluctant accomplice, Hannay must outwit a nefarious spy ring to prevent critical secrets from being sent out of the country. F. Kathleen Foley,, "The 99-Seat Beat: 'Slaughter City,' '39 Steps' and more," 22 June 2018 Others feel reluctant to use the formal medical system. Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post, "San Francisco will bring anti-addiction medication to users on the streets," 16 May 2018 The Arizona Diamondbacks brought back the bullpen cart this season — though many are reluctant to use it. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "Nats closer gets standing ovation from teammates for using D-Backs' bullpen cart," 12 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reluctant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of reluctant

1638, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for reluctant

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

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Statistics for reluctant

Last Updated

15 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reluctant

The first known use of reluctant was in 1638

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More Definitions for reluctant



English Language Learners Definition of reluctant

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


re·​luc·​tant | \ ri-ˈlək-tənt How to pronounce reluctant (audio) \

Kids Definition of reluctant

: showing doubt or unwillingness She was reluctant to go.

Other Words from reluctant

reluctantly adverb

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Comments on reluctant

What made you want to look up reluctant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


highly pertinent or appropriate

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