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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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 That bill was amended in the House Environmental Affairs committee to cut the regulation with a scalpel, rather than a meat cleaver, leading opponents to breath a heavy, but reluctant, sigh of relief. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "More than 100 groups ask Holcomb to veto controversial wetlands bill. He signed it into law.," 29 Apr. 2021 Despite this, involuntary hospitalization can also result in trauma that can make a young person living with a mental disorder reluctant to seek help from the mental health care system. Anuradha Varanasi, Forbes, "Involuntary Psychiatric Hospitalizations Among Young Black People Three Times Higher Than Their White Counterparts," 28 Apr. 2021 But in 1970, chafing from the constant attention and reluctant to undergo three more years of the exhausting physical training required for astronauts, Mr. Collins opted to retire from NASA. Washington Post, "Michael Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut, dies at 90," 28 Apr. 2021 But another officer refuses, seemingly reluctant to give up his hold on Mr. Gonzalez. New York Times, "An Alameda Police Officer Used His Knee to Pin Down Mario Gonzalez," 28 Apr. 2021 Cons: Too reluctant to throw the ball downfield and in traffic. USA TODAY, "2021 NFL draft: Quarterback rankings led by Clemson's Trevor Lawrence," 27 Apr. 2021 The video has hit a nerve online, in part because the song — which describes a reluctant goodbye — sounds especially poignant in the wake of the accident. Mike Ives And Muktita Suhartono New York Times, Star Tribune, "Weeks before fatal descent, Indonesian sub crew sang an unwitting farewell," 27 Apr. 2021 Uncertainty about the effectiveness of vaccines against some of the more aggressive variants of the coronavirus is making some countries reluctant to move early on freeing up overseas travel. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, "Europe Aims to Let American Travelers In While Keeping Covid-19 at Bay," 26 Apr. 2021 As the Nord Stream 2 pipeline nears completion, U.S. lawmakers from both parties have stepped up demands on a reluctant White House to impose new sanctions on Russian and European companies to halt the project. Matthew Lee, ajc, "Dispute over Russian pipeline tests Biden's Europe outreach," 24 Apr. 2021

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

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reluctant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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

Comments on reluctant

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