restraint of speech

Reticence is restraint of speech, discretion, tight-lippedness, or a reluctance or avoidance of saying too much; a silent and reserved nature. It can also be used to indicate discretion or restraint, and hesitancy or reluctance. An obsolete usage indicates an abrupt breaking-off in speech, or an aposiopesis.


  • Reticence is not just an artistic virtue, but a human one. It acknowledges the depth of meaning to be found in words unspoken.
    • Craig Brown, "Acquainted", in This is Craig Brown (2004)
  • Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins remain addicted to such unedifying conversation as about kings, robbers, ministers, armies, dangers, wars, food, drink, clothes, beds, garlands, perfumes, relatives, carriages, villages, towns and cities, countries, women, heroes, street- and well-gossip, talk of the departed, desultory chat, speculations about land and sea, talk about being and non-being, the ascetic Gotama refrains from such conversation.
    • Gotama Buddha, Digha Nikaya, M. Walshe, trans. (1987), Sutta 1, verse 1.17, p. 70
  • Ein guter Mensch redet von nichts gern außer Gott.
    • A good man speaks gladly of nothing but God.
  • The highest function of philosophy is to enforce the attitude of meditation and therewithal restrain the excessive volubility of the tongue. To us it seems that the reflective thinker wins his greatest victories when by what he says he compels us to recognise the relative insignificance of anything he can say. His task is not to capture Reality, but to free it from captivity.
  • He that hath knowledge spareth his words. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
  • Too many tongues have gates which fly apart
Too easily, and care for many things
That don’t concern them.
  • Theognis, Elegies, D. Wender, trans., 421