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 It was pitted as a contest to end a nonsensical barroom argument: who was more responsible for the Patriots’ 21st-century dynasty: the age-defiant Brady, or his taciturn Yoda, Belichick? Jason Gay, WSJ, 4 Oct. 2021 The titular Pedro is a taciturn electrician in a forest village in the foothills of western India. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 27 Sep. 2021 He’s often described as cryptic, difficult, taciturn, or distant. Jerry Saltz, Vulture, 22 Sep. 2021 Damon wanted to reflect such real-life interactions in Bill’s taciturn nature, which humorously contrasts with the chatty Virginie during car rides. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 28 July 2021 By his side, as always, is his semi-taciturn, surprisingly offbeat right-hand man, Coach Beard, played by Hunt. Nina Metz, chicagotribune.com, 21 July 2021 In addition to meeting potential suitors, Zoya goes to parties, works hard at her job, deals with her initially taciturn boss and tries to uncover the secret admirer who is sending her flowers and delectable treats. Beth Wood Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 July 2021 Not when the taciturn painter has been elevated into a master teacher, and his distorted spaces into the starting pistol of modernism. Jason Farago, New York Times, 27 June 2021 The botched initial investigation is taken over by a taciturn detective from London, Sergeant Cuff, who unearths family secrets and focuses his attention on a missing nightgown. Michelle Nijhuis, The Atlantic, 16 June 2021

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

7 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Taciturn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taciturn. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of taciturn

: tending to be quiet : not speaking frequently

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Nglish: Translation of taciturn for Spanish Speakers


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