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 taciturn (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 The film also serves as a graduation of sorts for Stranger Things' Caleb McLaughlin as Cole, a taciturn kid with a wisp of a mustache and the weight of a world-sized chip on his shoulder. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, "Idris Elba rides hard in coming-of-age Netflix drama Concrete Cowboy: Review," 1 Apr. 2021 Played by Liev Schreiber with taciturn gravitas, Marty Baron never outshines the reporters whose professionalism and perseverance form the movie’s narrative engine. Washington Post, "‘Spotlight’ made Marty Baron a star. It also made him my friend.," 26 Feb. 2021 In an uproarious diary published last year, Sasha Swire, wife of Hugo Swire, a former British senior foreign minister, recalled meeting a taciturn Lebedev that weekend. Simon Usborne, Town & Country, "The Dizzying Social Rise of Russian Scion Evgeny Lebedev," 21 Feb. 2021 But McFaden said the acting chief quickly became taciturn. jsonline.com, "'I don’t trust the people above me': Riot squad cops open up about disastrous response to Capitol insurrection," 19 Feb. 2021 Born in the Irish Channel in 1939, Meyer’s father was a taciturn truck driver and veteran of the invasion of Okinawa, Japan, during World War II. Matt Sledge, NOLA.com, "Joe Meyer, twice the trial chief for New Orleans DA, dead at 81," 1 Feb. 2021 While some Proud Boys hesitated, others followed Schwetz, including a taciturn man with a high-and-tight military haircut and a large Confederate flag attached to a wooden dowel. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, "Among the Insurrectionists," 15 Jan. 2021 Because while Clooney has delivered a sobering and thoughtful film, dramatically speaking the story -- a bit like Clooney's taciturn scientist -- feels confined in a prison of its own making. Brian Lowry, CNN, "George Clooney tries to save humanity in chilly apocalyptic drama 'The Midnight Sky'," 22 Dec. 2020 Soft-spoken and taciturn, Thibodeaux seems an unlikely candidate to become an advocate and public speaker, but that changed, too. Mark Vancleave, Star Tribune, "LIFE AFTER DEATH ROW," 2 Aug. 2015

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

10 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Taciturn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taciturn. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of taciturn

formal : tending to be quiet : not speaking frequently

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