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 reservedsecretive, 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 1979An 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
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.