ret·​i·​cent | \ ˈre-tə-sənt How to pronounce reticent (audio) \

Definition of reticent

1 : inclined to be silent or uncommunicative in speech : reserved
2 : restrained in expression, presentation, or appearance the room has an aspect of reticent dignity— A. N. Whitehead
3 : reluctant

Other Words from reticent

reticently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for reticent

silent, taciturn, reticent, reserved, secretive mean showing restraint in speaking. silent implies a habit of saying no more than is needed. the strong, silent type taciturn implies a temperamental disinclination to speech and usually connotes unsociability. taciturn villagers reticent implies a reluctance to speak out or at length, especially about one's own affairs. was reticent about his plans reserved implies reticence and suggests the restraining influence of caution or formality in checking easy informal conversational exchange. greetings were brief, formal, and reserved secretive, too, implies reticence but usually carries a suggestion of deviousness and lack of frankness or of an often ostentatious will to conceal. the secretive research and development division

The History of Reticent Is Less Than 200 Years Old

Reticent in the sense of "inclined to be silent or uncommunicative" first appeared in English in the early 19th century. About 50 years later, reticent took on the additional sense of "reluctant" which, while it is now well established, bothers some people, particularly because it has veered away from the word's Latin origins—reticent is from the verb reticēre, meaning "to keep silent." But there is some sense in the way the newer meaning developed. We first tended to use the "reluctant" sense of reticent when the context was speech (as in "reticent to talk about her past"), thus keeping the word close to its "silent" sense. Eventually, however, exclusive association with speech was abandoned. Now one can be reticent to do anything.

Examples of reticent in a Sentence

… his friends and associates are conspicuously reticent to discuss him in public. — Martin Flanagan, Manchester Guardian Weekly, 29 Dec. 1991 … two or three rather reticent abstract paintings. — Jay Jacobs, Gourmet, January 1979 An extremely reticent man, Morris does not like to talk about his experience in personal terms. — Helen Dudar, New York Times Magazine, 30 Oct. 1977 the panel decided to investigate the fraud charges against the company, which has always been reticent about its internal operations her husband is by nature a reticent person, and she resigned herself to that fact long ago
Recent Examples on the Web The Colts will still line up in a 4-3 base defense, still play a lot of zone coverage, still be reticent to blitz heavily. The Indianapolis Star, 25 July 2022 Cipollone had been reticent to testify to the committee, citing presidential privilege, but he has been regularly mentioned in the hearings and is key to a number of episodes being plumbed by the committee. Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, 6 July 2022 When some friends invited her to the 2015 iteration of the festival, Taylor was reticent. Katie Bain, Billboard, 27 May 2022 Near the Russian border, residents like Väinö Kinnunen, 90, are less reticent. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, 13 May 2022 The government has even been reticent to confirm U.S. access points near the Ukrainian border including a small cargo airport near Mielec just 60 miles from Ukraine’s western city of Lviv. Eric Tegler, Forbes, 6 May 2022 Dorfman noted that conservative funders have long supported their work in that way, while liberal funders have tended to be more reticent. Glenn Gamboa, USA TODAY, 4 July 2022 Dorfman noted that conservative funders have long supported their work in that way, while liberal funders have tended to be more reticent. CBS News, 4 July 2022 But to get there, Bowser will need the support of not only her enthusiastic supporters, but more reticent ones, like Hughes, who think the city could be better. Julie Zauzmer Weil, Washington Post, 15 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reticent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of reticent

1825, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for reticent

Latin reticent-, reticens, present participle of reticēre to keep silent, from re- + tacēre to be silent — more at tacit

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The first known use of reticent was in 1825

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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Reticent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of reticent for Spanish Speakers


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