adjective tac·i·turn \ ˈta-sə-ˌtərn \
|Updated on: 13 Jul 2018

Definition of taciturn

: temperamentally disinclined to talk


play \ˌta-sə-ˈtər-nə-tē\ noun

Examples of taciturn in a Sentence

  1. I went on speech strike … remaining defiantly taciturn through a procession of speech therapists and psychotherapists, verbalizing only to the gardener and swearing him to silence. —Simon SchamaNew Republic22 July 2002
  2. The pipe-smoking Malcolm Cowley … though a faithful fellow-traveller, was too taciturn usually to show his hand. —Mary McCarthyGranta 27Summer 1989
  3. She was a small, taut, pale, wiry London girl, alarmingly taciturn, demon at basketball (at which she captained us) … —Elizabeth BowenThe Mulberry Tree1986
  4. When he got to the substation that night, this private taciturn fellow had to spill his guts. If he didn't tell somebody, he might blow like a land mine. —Joseph WambaughLines and Shadows1984
  5. a somewhat taciturn young man

  6. a taciturn man, he almost never initiates a conversation

Recent Examples of taciturn from the Web

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

How Should You Use taciturn?

We first find "taciturn" in a satiric drama written in 1734 by James Miller, a British clergyman educated at Oxford. A character describes a nephew thus: "When he was little, he never was what they call Roguish or Waggish, but was always close, quiet, and taciturn." It seems we waited unduly long to adopt this useful descendent of the verb tacēre, meaning "to be silent" - we were quicker to adopt other words from the "tacēre" family. We’ve been using "tacit," an adjective meaning "expressed without words" or "implied," since the mid-17th century. And we’ve had the noun taciturnity, meaning "habitual silence," since at least 1450.

Origin and Etymology of taciturn

French or Latin; French taciturne, from Middle French, from Latin taciturnus, from tacitus — see tacit

Synonym Discussion of taciturn

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

TACITURN Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of taciturn for English Language Learners

  • : tending to be quiet : not speaking frequently

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