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Example:

This was my first time seeing him like this: [...], almost speechless.

The first word that came to my mind was quiet. But I think its meaning is closer to not speaking at all than speaking less.

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    "Taciturn" is the term for someone who is habitually "a man of few words", but is the wrong word for a case where a normally talkative person is left "speechless". "Reserved" might fit the sense better. – Hot Licks Apr 1 '15 at 12:33
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    Yes, taciturn is generally used as a description of character or usual behavior, not to describe the silence of someone who is usually talkative. In older books you'll see "struck dumb", "left speechless", "dumbfounded", "aghast", and other such expressions. – bobro Apr 1 '15 at 12:42
  • Taciturn is also used to indicate a specific instance, not only a habit: You are very taciturn today. Why are you so quiet? – user66974 Apr 1 '15 at 12:54
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    Interestingly and inexplicably, this question is missing the answer "quiet is fine". What gives? I'd vote on that. – RegDwigнt Apr 1 '15 at 15:37
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Taciturn may fit in your sentence:

  • inclined to silence; reserved in speech; reluctant to join in conversation.

or laconic:

  • using or marked by the use of few words; terse or concise.

(TFD)

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Reserved - slow and unwilling to show feelings or express opinions.

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taciturn, closemouthed, dumb, laconic, reserved, reticent, silent, tight-lipped, uncommunicative, clammed up, not admittinganything, unable to speak, muts; speechless, dumb

broody (Very thoughtful and taciturn; sullenly silent, with the implication of hatching a plan)

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The answer really depends on the context of what the situation is. If the person is usually talkative. I would say, "You're awfully quiet today. Is everything all right?" If I was describing someone to another person, I would say, "My friend, Sarah, is kinda shy. She's a quiet person." I could also say she is a private person or she is reserved. All of those would describe the fact that she usually doesn't talk much. If I was with a person and wanted them to answer my questions or share more of how they were thinking with me and they wouldn't, I would say they were "guarded" or "not very trusting", and that would also describe them not talking very much. Taciturn and laconic may be in the dictionary, and you may use them in a college paper, but you won't hear those words used in day-to-day conversation. Just saying. :) Hope this helps.

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Is "mute" too far? Muteness can apply to speaking nonsense or speaking less rather than just not speaking at all.

How about, hushed?

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  • "Mute" would be a good choice, except that it doesn't fit with "almost speechless". "Muted", perhaps, would leave some wiggle room. – Hot Licks Apr 1 '15 at 12:43
  • Good idea. It definitely gives a physical sense of what you're trying to convey. – Lara Littlefield Apr 1 '15 at 12:58

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