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



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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 Reuters/Joe Penney Running e-commerce businesses in Africa’s overwhelmed cities can be a thankless task due to the basic infrastructure gaps and a reluctant customer base. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "African e-commerce is getting a much needed boost from coronavirus lockdowns," 19 May 2020 But reluctant lawmakers say there’s a drawback: The state is forecasting a billion-dollar deficit this year, and money spent on a second dividend would increase the state’s budget problems next year. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Veto fights and dividend struggles sank Alaska Legislature’s attempt to speed pandemic aid," 18 May 2020 But a popular interview with reluctant Boston Celtics star Dave Cowens soon earned her a three-year deal and paved the way to her breakthrough role the next year on The NFL Today. Dallas News, "Denton native Phyllis George, an 'ultimate trailblazer’ for female sportscasters, dies at 70," 17 May 2020 In the 2015 blockbuster film Mad Max: Fury Road, Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy starred as reluctant comrades against an insane, post-apocalyptic cult leader. Ineye Komonibo,, "Charlize Theron & Tom Hardy Reflect On Their Legendary Mad Max Feud," 15 May 2020 In addition, Baldridge told a House committee last fall, the FBI is often reluctant to spend time and money investigating unsuccessful computer attacks. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland, "Bill to create variety of new cybercrime offenses passes Ohio House," 13 May 2020 Indianapolis Star With a heavy dose of creativity and a reluctant acceptance of the reality at hand, IndyCar is primed to join NASCAR as the front-runners in American sports’ return to some sense of normalcy in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. Nathan Brown, Indianapolis Star, "IndyCar details plans for season-opener at Texas Motor Speedway, including no fans," 7 May 2020 Until there is a coronavirus vaccine, Americans will likely remain reluctant to visit crowded sports venues, restaurants, conferences and airports. Matt Egan, CNN, "The economy is collapsing like never before. Yet US stocks just posted their best month since 1987," 1 May 2020 Kristina Lindbergh is the granddaughter of renowned aviator Charles Lindbergh, who in 1927 made the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris, transforming him from an unknown mail pilot to a national hero and reluctant celebrity. Kate Stone Lombardi, Good Housekeeping, "Grandparents Have Had Enough of Your Weird Baby Names," 21 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for reluctant

Time Traveler

The first known use of reluctant was in 1638

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Statistics for reluctant

Last Updated

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Reluctant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for reluctant


How to pronounce reluctant (audio)

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

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