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

Synonyms & Antonyms for reluctant



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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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web For instance, the meeting leader may need to politely interrupt participants who tend to dominate the conversation or draw out those who are more reluctant to contribute. Johnny C. Taylor Jr., USA TODAY, 3 Aug. 2022 While Nini makes a potentially life-changing discovery in LA, a reluctant EJ takes the reins in a new role for Camp Shallow Lake's production of Frozen. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 1 Aug. 2022 Investors get more reluctant to invest and consumers get more skittish about spending. Richard Kestenbaum, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 One unusual, beautifully played scene, in which the more baby-adept Mully talks a reluctant Joy through her first breastfeed, is striking both for its welcome lack of coyness and its meshing of adult and adolescent points of view. Guy Lodge, Variety, 28 July 2022 Still reluctant to return to the studio, Shires came up with a compromise: one trial day of recording. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 28 July 2022 The attacks in Argentina reshaped the struggle between Hezbollah and Israel, making Israel more reluctant to attempt the assassination of senior members of the militant organization, according to four former Israeli officials. New York Times, 22 July 2022 And given the groups’ long-running success of opposing such measures, some experts doubt the new federal law can budge reluctant state legislatures. Kimberly Kindy, Washington Post, 18 July 2022 Tasked with helping protect a village of felines, Hank finds a reluctant teacher (Samuel L. Jackson) to train him before teaming up with the villagers to save the day. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 July 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for reluctant

Time Traveler

The first known use of reluctant was in 1638

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Dictionary Entries Near reluctant



reluctant dragon

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Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Reluctant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for reluctant


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

More from Merriam-Webster on reluctant

Nglish: Translation of reluctant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reluctant for Arabic Speakers


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