reticent

adjective
ret·i·cent | \ ˈre-tə-sənt \

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

The ECtHR has not always been reticent in the face of systemic human rights violations. Filiz Kahraman, Washington Post, "Why Turkey’s human rights violations won’t end up in court," 12 June 2018 Despite the concerns, congressional leaders have been reticent about pushing back on Trump's trade agenda. Michael Collins, USA TODAY, "Senators blast Trump's 'reckless' tariffs, warn of impact on farmers, businesses," 12 July 2018 While almost all players were roped into this world, some were more reticent than others. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 6 Weeks to Go - The Own Goal That Killed Andres Escobar," 13 May 2018 But the president’s swift and forceful initial response certainly felt unusual in a climate where university officials are often reticent and hyper-careful in discussions of personnel matters, especially when politics are involved. Anna North, Vox, "Conservatives keep sparking “free speech” battles. When a Muslim professor tweeted about racism, guess what happened?," 24 Apr. 2018 Always be mindful of how your office conversations could affect a closeted or more reticent coworker. Nick Levine, GQ, "How to Be Gay at Work," 14 June 2018 Women in the Marrakesh market seemed reticent about having their pictures taken. David D’arcy, SFChronicle.com, "Susan Meiselas photography retrospective at SFMOMA," 12 July 2018 Though reticent to talk to us, our insider agreed to chat on the grounds of strict anonymity. Chuck Tannert, Popular Mechanics, "Can Tesla Keep Up the Model 3 Pace?," 2 July 2018 Mom Cissy Houston proudly recalls her daughter's talents, but otherwise appears reticent. Randy Cordova, azcentral, "In revealing documentary 'Whitney,' a superstar's life unravels," 5 July 2018

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

19 Sep 2018

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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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