\u2018Reluctant\u2019 and \u2018reticent\u2019 are both adjectives that mean \u2018unwilling\u2019. They also look similar written down, so it\u2019s no wonder some people use these terms interchangeably. But there is a difference between 'reluctant\u2019 and \u2018reticent\u2019, so check out our guide to make sure you can use them correctly.\nReluctant (Unwilling or Slow to Do Something)\nTo be \u2018reluctant\u2019 is to be unwilling or hesitant to do something. For example:\nI was reluctant to leave before the fireworks.\nYou can use this term in any situation where someone is resistant to something, so it has a wide range of possible uses.\n\nThis flexibility is reflected in the origins of this term, which comes from a Latin word meaning \u2018struggle\u2019. As such, if we are struggling to bring ourselves to do anything, we can say we feel 'reluctant' about it.\nReticent (Unwilling to Speak)\nWhile \u2018reticent\u2019 also implies being unwilling or hesitant about something, it applies specifically to speaking or revealing our thoughts and feelings:\nTom was reticent about why he left the party.\nHere, we\u2019re not saying that Tom was \u2018reluctant\u2019 to leave a party. We\u2019re saying he was unwilling to tell us why he left the party.\n\nWe can also use \u2018reticent\u2019 to describe someone\u2019s character in general:\nHannah has been reticent for as long as I\u2019ve known her.\nEven in this case, though, the word 'reticent' suggests that Hannah is quiet and reserved in particular. It does not mean she is 'unwilling' in other ways. And we would not use 'reluctant' to describe a personal trait like this.\n\nAgain, looking at the origins of this word can help us understand how it is used in modern English: \u2018reticent\u2019 comes from reticere, which means \u2018silent\u2019 in Latin. Thus, if we are \u2018reticent\u2019, we are being quiet about something.\nReluctant or Reticent?\nAlthough some now use \u2018reticent\u2019 to mean \u2018unwilling\u2019 in any context, it would be a mistake to do this in formal writing. So to avoid errors, remember that \u2018reticent\u2019 has a more specific meaning than \u2018reluctant\u2019:\n\n \tTo be reluctant is to be unwilling to do something.\n \tTo be reticent is to be unwilling to speak or reveal your thoughts.\n\nIf you can remember this distinction, you should be able to use these terms correctly. But if you want to be extra sure that your writing is error free, you can also submit\u00a0a document to our outstanding proofreading service.