: temperamentally disinclined to talk
Did You Know?
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.
Upon hearing that reticent Calvin Coolidge -- arguably the most taciturn president in U.S. history -- had died, Dorothy Parker quipped, "How could they tell?"
"The waiter, previously friendly and good-humored, was tonight solemn and taciturn." -- From Taylor Stevens' novel The Informationist, 2011
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Unscramble the following letters to create a synonym of "taciturn": nolccia. The answer is ...
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