Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Apr 27 15:32:36 UTC 2009

On Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 9:51 AM, Jesse Sheidlower <jester at> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:43:29AM -0400, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> At 4:03 AM -0700 4/27/09, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at> wrote:
>>>  >From the recently published _The Mercedes Coffin_ by Faye
>>> Kellerman (New York: William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins),
>>> 2008, ISBN 978-0-06-122733-2) chapter 38 page 311:
>>> "What if he holds all the purse strings and she knows he'd be
>>> reticent to hire a lawyer to defend her?"
>>> The word the author aimed at and missed appears to be "reluctant".
>> Yup, I think we've had a couple of rounds on "reticent abuse"--Alison
>> noted it in 2007 (diagnosing influence from "hesitant" as well as
>> "reluctant") and Mike Quinion covered in on World Wide Words around
>> the same time.  Mark Mandel thought it might have to do more with the
>> orthographic resemblance between "reluctant" and "reticent" than with
>> any (barely existing) phonological similarity.
> It's also in MWDEU, with quotations and predecessors back a
> number of decades, and a variety of other usage books.

And just to pile on, here's a Word Routes column on reticent/reluctant:

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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