tac·​i·​turn | \ ˈta-sə-ˌtərn How to pronounce taciturn (audio) \

Definition of taciturn

: temperamentally disinclined to talk

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Other Words from taciturn

taciturnity \ ˌta-​sə-​ˈtər-​nə-​tē How to pronounce taciturnity (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

How should you use taciturn?

The earliest currently-known example of taciturn appears 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 descendant 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.

Examples of taciturn in a Sentence

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 Schama, New Republic, 22 July 2002 The pipe-smoking Malcolm Cowley … though a faithful fellow-traveller, was too taciturn usually to show his hand. — Mary McCarthy, Granta 27, Summer 1989 She was a small, taut, pale, wiry London girl, alarmingly taciturn, demon at basketball (at which she captained us) … — Elizabeth Bowen, The Mulberry Tree, 1986 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 Wambaugh, Lines and Shadows, 1984 a somewhat taciturn young man a taciturn man, he almost never initiates a conversation
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Recent Examples on the Web Dalton, wearing that Alabama bass fisherman uniform of a t-shirt, ball cap, and wraparound black sunglasses, was as taciturn as Sandlin was talkative. Tom Vanderbilt, Popular Mechanics, "Why Riding a Backwards Bike Will Break Your Brain," 14 Aug. 2020 Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, for example, has been uncharacteristically taciturn on the issue. The Economist, "Global protests How George Floyd’s death reverberates around the world," 8 June 2020 State health officials there have been taciturn about death statistics, usually leaving it to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) to announce the running toll at his daily briefings. Washington Post, "U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000, amid incomplete reporting from auth...," 26 Mar. 2020 The agility of the early storytelling dissipates a little as Winters lingers over the predictably simmering tensions between Nelson, who remains suspicious of the threat to his turf, and taciturn Jacu, who is done with criminal life. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Pacified' ('Pacificado'): Film Review | Tribeca 2020," 25 Apr. 2020 Typically, doctors have remained more taciturn during public health crises. Michael Cabanatuan, SFChronicle.com, "Coronavirus: UCSF doctors take to Twitter to educate public, sound alarm about COVID-19," 4 Apr. 2020 The taciturn Texan led MLB relievers in opponent average against, opponent OPS against, and fewest home runs surrendered per nine 9 (0.13, allowing one across 286 batters). Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "For a change, Red Sox bullpen is the pitching building block," 24 Feb. 2020 The taciturn 21 Savage, though, is having a hard time adjusting. Gail Mitchell, Billboard, "How 21 Savage Is Balancing Art and Activism After ICE Scare," 11 Apr. 2019 Even the grandkids, who include the handsome-jerk playboy Ransom (Chris Evans) and the taciturn alt-right-troll teenager Jacob (Jaeden Martell), are curdled in their own ways. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Knives Out Is No Ordinary Murder Mystery," 27 Nov. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of taciturn

1734, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for taciturn

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

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The first known use of taciturn was in 1734

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Last Updated

19 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Taciturn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taciturn. Accessed 28 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for taciturn


How to pronounce taciturn (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of taciturn

formal : tending to be quiet : not speaking frequently

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Nglish: Translation of taciturn for Spanish Speakers

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