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reticent

adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms of reticent

1 given to keeping one's activities hidden from public observation or knowledge
  • the panel decided to investigate the fraud charges against the company, which has always been reticent about its internal operations

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2 tending not to speak frequently (as by habit or inclination)
  • her husband is by nature a reticent person, and she resigned herself to that fact long ago

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3 slow to begin or proceed with a course of action because of doubts or uncertainty
  • understandably, she's reticent about becoming involved with another evangelical religious sect

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Frequently Asked Questions About reticent

How is the word reticent distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of reticent are reserved, secretive, silent, and taciturn. While all these words mean "showing restraint in speaking," reticent implies a reluctance to speak out or at length, especially about one's own affairs.

was reticent about his plans

In what contexts can reserved take the place of reticent?

The words reserved and reticent are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, reserved implies reticence and suggests the restraining influence of caution or formality in checking easy informal conversational exchange.

greetings were brief, formal, and reserved

When would secretive be a good substitute for reticent?

The words secretive and reticent can be used in similar contexts, but 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

When might silent be a better fit than reticent?

The meanings of silent and reticent largely overlap; however, silent implies a habit of saying no more than is needed.

the strong, silent type

Where would taciturn be a reasonable alternative to reticent?

Although the words taciturn and reticent have much in common, taciturn implies a temperamental disinclination to speech and usually connotes unsociability.

taciturn villagers

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The first known use of reticent was in 1825

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Cite this Entry

“Reticent.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/reticent. Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on reticent

Dictionary: Definition of reticent

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