Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Inclined to keep one's thoughts, feelings, and personal affairs to oneself. synonym: laconic.
  • adjective Restrained or reserved.
  • adjective Usage Problem Reluctant; unwilling.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Disposed to be silent; reserved; not apt to speak about or reveal any matters: as, he is very reticent about his affairs.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Inclined to keep silent; reserved; uncommunicative.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Keeping one's thoughts and opinions to oneself; reserved or restrained.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective reluctant to draw attention to yourself
  • adjective temperamentally disinclined to talk
  • adjective cool and formal in manner

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin reticēns, reticent-, present participle of reticēre, to keep silent : re-, re- + tacēre, to be silent.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Latin reticens, present participle of reticere ("to keep silence"); re- + tacere ("to be silent").

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Examples

  • Havel has been described as a reticent, modest, honest, courageous and a Renaissance man -- a man filled with a moral vision of what the quality of life should be for all people.

    Lee Bycel: The Legacy of Vaclav Havel

  • Havel has been described as a reticent, modest, honest, courageous and a Renaissance man -- a man filled with a moral vision of what the quality of life should be for all people.

    Lee Bycel: The Legacy of Vaclav Havel

  • Havel has been described as a reticent, modest, honest, courageous and a Renaissance man -- a man filled with a moral vision of what the quality of life should be for all people.

    Lee Bycel: The Legacy of Vaclav Havel

  • Mr. Catlin, who could hardly be called reticent, at once made plain his feeling about the Missouri, the river that was to carry them some two thousand miles into the mysterious reaches of the West.

    The Berrybender Narratives

  • Maria C. of Jersey City, NJ writes in with today's Mailbag Friday question: "My coworker always uses the word reticent when he really means reluctant.

    Visual Thesaurus : Online Edition

  • That caricature had faded away over the years, along with the stories of his brutal on-set perfectionism, replaced by a picture of a marginalized but respected industry elder whom journalists and collaborators have described as reticent and not especially prone to introspection.

    NYT > Home Page

  • That caricature had faded away over the years, along with the stories of his brutal on-set perfectionism, replaced by a picture of a marginalized but respected industry elder whom journalists and collaborators have described as reticent and not especially prone to introspection.

    NYT > Global Home

  • That caricature had faded away over the years, along with the stories of his brutal on-set perfectionism, replaced by a picture of a marginalized but respected industry elder whom journalists and collaborators have described as reticent and not especially prone to introspection.

    NYT > Global Home

  • That caricature had faded away over the years, along with the stories of his brutal on-set perfectionism, replaced by a picture of a marginalized but respected industry elder whom journalists and collaborators have described as reticent and not especially prone to introspection.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan told parliament Thursday the government was " reticent " to protect the taxpayer ' s interest.

    Ireland

Comments

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  • reluctant to speak.

    December 24, 2006

  • I don't kow if this comment meets your guidelines for a contribution, but here goes! I find that people nowadays are using reticent as a synonym for reluctant (e.g. John is reticent to show emotion in public). But only one of your cited definitions for reticent mentions reluctant (American Heritage's 3rd citation) - and not as the preferred meaning. My comment I guess is about people's misuse of this word. My gut feeling is that US English speakers choose 'reticent' because it sounds fancier than good old simpler 'reluctant.'

    April 2, 2009

  • disinclined to talk, not revealing one's thoughts

    When asked about her father, Helen lost her outward enthusiasm and became rather reticent.

    October 12, 2016