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[ri-luhk-tuh nt] /rɪˈlʌk tənt/
unwilling; disinclined:
a reluctant candidate.
struggling in opposition.
Origin of reluctant
1655-65; < Latin reluctant- (stem of reluctāns), present participle of reluctārī. See reluct, -ant
Related forms
reluctantly, adverb
half-reluctant, adjective
half-reluctantly, adverb
unreluctant, adjective
unreluctantly, adverb
Can be confused
reluctant, reticent (see synonym study at the current entry)
reticent, reluctant.
1. Reluctant, loath, averse describe disinclination toward something. Reluctant implies some sort of mental struggle, as between disinclination and sense of duty: reluctant to expel students. Loath describes extreme disinclination: loath to part from a friend. Averse, used with to and a noun or a gerund, describes a long-held dislike or unwillingness, though not a particularly strong feeling: averse to an idea; averse to getting up early.
1. willing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for reluctant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This reluctant concession of the leading Tory paper of England caused a great sensation.

  • Yes, his voice was reluctant; but he went at once towards the house and disappeared.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • A hint of my suspicions with regard to the Countess and Stenovics would do it; but I'm reluctant to risk giving him such a shock.

    Sophy of Kravonia Anthony Hope
  • But such disturbers of the order of thought Hegel is reluctant to acknowledge.

    Sophist Plato
  • The spring of the plains is not a reluctant virgin but brazen and soon away.

    Main Street Sinclair Lewis
British Dictionary definitions for reluctant


not eager; unwilling; disinclined
(archaic) offering resistance or opposition
Derived Forms
reluctantly, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin reluctārī to resist; see reluct
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for reluctant

"unwilling," 1660s, from Latin reluctantem (nominative reluctans), present participle of reluctari (see reluctance). Related: Reluctantly. Cf. Spanish reluchante, Italian riluttante.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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