1 : inclined to be silent or uncommunicative in speech : reserved
2 : restrained in expression, presentation, or appearance
3 : reluctant
Did You Know?
Reticent in the sense of "inclined to be silent or uncommunicative" first appeared in English in the early 19th century. About 50 years later, reticent took on the additional sense of "reluctant" which, while it is now well established, bothers some people, particularly because it has veered away from the word's Latin origins—reticent is from the verb reticēre, meaning "to keep silent." But there is some sense in the way the newer meaning developed. We first tended to use the "reluctant" sense of reticent when the context was speech (as in "reticent to talk about her past"), thus keeping the word close to its "silent" sense. Eventually, however, exclusive association with speech was abandoned. Now one can be reticent to do anything.
Unlike the chatty, gregarious protagonist of his novel, the author is quite reticent in public.
"Tech companies, like Apple and Facebook, have been extremely reticent to lift barriers for investigators because they fear it will compromise user security." — Jake Kanter, Business Insider, 14 June 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Unscramble the letters to create a synonym of reticent meaning "uncommunicative": IRATNCTU.VIEW THE ANSWER
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