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

From the start, both religious and political leaders there have been noticeably reticent, apparently content to stand back and watch the Saudi position unravel. Souad Mekhennet, The Seattle Times, "Nations fear fallout could trigger instability in the region," 23 Oct. 2018 Juicy and fresh, with unusual aromas and flavors of watermelon and potpourri. Austere and reticent, with stony aromas and flavors of citrus and flowers. Eric Asimov, New York Times, "American Rosés Without Clichés," 5 July 2018 Ian Schrager has always been reticent to discuss the club. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Matt Tyrnauer’s New Documentary, Studio 54, Takes On the Rise, Fall, and Last Days of Disco," 4 Oct. 2018 While automakers have been reticent to speak out against these moves, many have adjusted their outlooks and warned investors of potential negative effects. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "The Ford Focus is dead in the US because of Trump’s trade war," 31 Aug. 2018 Adrian Joffe, the president of Dover Street Market (and husband of the notoriously reticent Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo) acknowledged that Los Angeles hardly brims with fashion fans. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Los Angeles Is a Fashion Wasteland. Can One Store Change That?," 5 Nov. 2018 China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with veto power over whether the issue will be brought before the ICC, has been reticent about condemning Myanmar's government during the crisis. Jamey Keaten, Fox News, "UN team: Myanmar military chiefs should face 'genocide' case," 27 Aug. 2018 Some lenders are reticent to give Kushner Cos. a third chance at running the building, according to two people familiar with the property. Caleb Melby, Bloomberg.com, "Kushner in Talks to Buy Back Vornado Stake in 666 Fifth Ave.," 27 Feb. 2018 Studies show that age and relationship with the alleged assailant are important factors, with adolescents more likely to delay reporting than their older counterparts, and those who have a relationship with the assailant also more reticent. Isaac Stanley-becker, The Seattle Times, "Kavanaugh’s accuser waited years to come forward. Does that undercut her claim?," 18 Sep. 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

7 Feb 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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