adjective re·luc·tant \ ri-ˈlək-tənt \
|Updated on: 7 Aug 2018

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



Examples of reluctant in a Sentence

  1. 94% of the butterflies are females, and they jostle for the attention of the few males, who seem reluctant suitors. —Carl ZimmerScience11 May 2001
  2. 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 BradleyNew York Times18 Dec. 1994
  3. 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 CraneMaggie: A Girl of the Streets1893
  4. The woman seemed desirous, yet reluctant, to speak, and answered, in low, mysterious tone. —Harriet Beecher StoweUncle Tom's Cabin1852
  5. We were reluctant to get involved.

  6. He might agree but seems reluctant to admit it.

Recent Examples of reluctant from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of reluctant

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

RELUCTANT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of reluctant for English Language Learners

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

RELUCTANT Defined for Kids


adjective re·luc·tant \ ri-ˈlək-tənt \

Definition of reluctant for Students

: showing doubt or unwillingness
  • She was reluctant to go.



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excessive admiration or flattery

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