tac·​i·​turn | \ ˈta-sə-ˌtərn \

Definition of taciturn

: temperamentally disinclined to talk

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Other Words from taciturn

taciturnity \ ˌta-​sə-​ˈtər-​nə-​tē \ 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?

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.

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

Paul is effusive and almost bubbly, while Fred is more taciturn and tends to let Paul run, interrupting only when corrections are necessary. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Video: How Star Control II was almost a much more boring game," 27 Dec. 2018 These conflicts unfold in tandem with the quietly evolving relationship between Corcoran’s vivaciously appealing Inge and Kimmel’s initially introverted and taciturn Olaf. Misha Berson, The Seattle Times, "Taproot Theatre’s ‘Sweet Land’ features an appealing romance set amid xenophobia," 31 July 2018 Paul is effusive and almost bubbly, while Fred is more taciturn and tends to let Paul run, interrupting only when corrections are necessary. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Video: How Star Control II was almost a much more boring game," 23 Oct. 2018 The restaurant will mimic the design and operations of the original—does that mean taciturn waiters in bowties?—and still plans to serve that extra thick cut bacon. Laura Dannen Redman, Condé Nast Traveler, "Peter Luger Steak House Is Coming to Tokyo," 18 July 2018 But the taciturn special counsel never fights back. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Polar opposites Trump and Mueller barrel toward a showdown," 30 May 2018 One was taciturn and steady; the other was volatile and virtuosic. New York Times, "What’s on TV Thursday: ‘Secret City’ and ‘Blue Valentine’," 5 July 2018 While Colombia’s David Ospina stood taciturn, Pickford was a ball of energy. James Ellingworth, The Seattle Times, "Pickford the hero as England’s penalty curse ends," 3 July 2018 Gone is the sensuous prostitute who ruled Mariposa Saloon alongside Maeve (Thandie Newton), and in her place is a taciturn war machine. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Angela Sarafyan Is Westworld's Secret Weapon," 18 June 2018

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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Last Updated

12 Jan 2019

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The first known use of taciturn was in 1734

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English Language Learners Definition of taciturn

: tending to be quiet : not speaking frequently

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More from Merriam-Webster on taciturn

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Spanish Central: Translation of taciturn

Nglish: Translation of taciturn for Spanish Speakers

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