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

States were reluctant to share intelligence, because Russian hackers had long ago penetrated the EU’s communication networks, which had been designed to carry information on fishing quotas rather than delicate war plans. The Economist, "Europe alone: July 2024," 6 July 2019 The incident was enough for Manila to register a diplomatic protest with Beijing, though the government of President Rodrigo Duterte so far appears to be reluctant to push Beijing too hard on the issue. Brad Lendon, CNN, "China tests anti-ship missile in South China Sea, Pentagon says," 3 July 2019 Some board members were reluctant to give a five-year contract, however, because of concerns about safety after the shooting and about whether the school adequately addressed complaints about its special education services. Meg Wingerter, The Denver Post, "STEM School, Douglas County district reach five-year agreement, with conditions," 29 June 2019 The only reason the federal government intervened, Harris also pointed out, was because so many localities were reluctant to implement the law. CBS News, "Fact check: The first Democratic primary debate, Day 2," 28 June 2019 One thing parents may be reluctant to discuss is exposure to alcohol early in pregnancy. Anchorage Daily News, "In search of a better conversation about alcohol and pregnancy," 26 June 2019 Some were eager to share their experiences as drivers; others were reluctant to be identified, worried about a negative response from their ride-share employers. Karina Elwood,, "Uber makes checking rider’s age a driver’s job. After girl’s death, some don’t want that responsibility," 26 June 2019 The news comes as Democrats grappled with whether to subpoena Mueller, who was reluctant to testify in public., "Mueller to testify to Congress in open session about his investigation," 25 June 2019 The American has long wanted to add Army, but the service academy has been reluctant to join a conference and give up control of its schedule., "AP sources: UConn in talks to leave American Athletic Conference, move back into Big East," 23 June 2019

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

10 Jul 2019

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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).


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