Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Reluctant vs. reticent

The latest Language Corner from CJR lays down the difference between reluctant and the oft-misused reticent.

Reluctance you know. But reticence? They're not synonyms.

Reticence is a reluctance to speak, similar to silence and, the article says, "is commonly followed by a word or phrase meaning "concerning": His reticence about the accounts made the investigators suspicious."
Like "silence" or "reserve," "reticence" is uncomfortable with an infinitive; "reticence to sign," or "to" do anything, will offend every time. "Reluctance" and "reluctant," though, work nicely with infinitives, as for example in "reluctance to sign further contracts."


At 12:54 AM, March 24, 2005, Blogger aparker54 said...

Y'all might have been more effective if you had discussed the Latin roots of "reticence" and "reluctance." Maybe a lame joke about Tic Tacs thrown in with the discussion of taceo, tacit and vowel weakening. CJR's "reTIring" doesn't seem helpful.



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