reticent

adjective
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

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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 first appeared about 170 years ago, but the "reluctant" sense of "reticent" is a mid-20th century introduction. Though it is now well-established, this newer sense 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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Some animals grew more bold and others more reticent. Quanta Magazine, "Animal Copies Reveal Roots of Individuality," 12 May 2015 Even in Democratic-leaning states, voters are showing signs of being reticent to tax the wealthy. Tim Craig, Washington Post, "For Democratic state leaders, taxing the rich carries risks for suburban strategy," 18 June 2019 Although Breed proposed the ballot measure in late April, board members have been reticent to provide their opinions. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "SF Mayor London Breed struggles to build consensus with supervisors on housing plan," 16 June 2019 The word itself — micro-transactions — has become one the industry is reticent to say because the subject almost always overpowers all others. Todd Martens, latimes.com, "E3 2019: Is the video game industry ready for pop-culture saturation?," 10 June 2019 But Larter is reticent to point to gender as the sole driver of change determining how the science on board the Palmer is conducted. Elizabeth Rush, National Geographic, "These women are changing the landscape of Antarctic research," 7 Mar. 2019 As a stealthy, high-tech jet packed with the latest technology, the U.S. Air Force is understandably reticent about allowing the outside world a glimpse of the cockpit controls. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Look Inside the Cockpit of a B-2 Bomber for the First Time," 29 Apr. 2019 The 64-year-old Lamont, who graduated from Harvard College and Yale University’s School of Management, appeared reticent during the primary campaign to throw many strong punches at Ganim, who has a strong base of support in the state’s largest city. Sue Haigh, The Seattle Times, "Lamont wins Democratic primary for Connecticut governor," 14 Aug. 2018 This includes appointing one person to make sure reticent employees speak up. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "The Most Anxious Generation Goes to Work," 9 May 2019

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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near reticent

reticella

reticence

reticency

reticent

reticle

reticul-

reticular

Statistics for reticent

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reticent

The first known use of reticent was in 1825

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More Definitions for reticent

reticent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of reticent

: not willing to tell people about things

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More from Merriam-Webster on reticent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for reticent

Spanish Central: Translation of reticent

Nglish: Translation of reticent for Spanish Speakers

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