I need help recalling a phrase or a word. This phrase is used to describe a person who speaks as few words as possible. He or she only speaks when others asks him or her a question.

I've seen this phrase before. It's something like He is stingy with his words.

closed as off-topic by MetaEd Jan 5 '18 at 19:16

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    Taciturn or reticent might be the words that you're not able to recollect. – Nagarajan Shanmuganathan Jan 5 '18 at 11:10
  • "Succinct" is also a possibility, though it is rather positive in connotation, and associated to the ability to be concise when speaking, yet clear. – Pedro Tamaroff Jan 5 '18 at 11:39
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    @NagarajanShanmuganathan "reticent" means that the person is reluctant to speak, but when they do actually speak they might speak normally. That is, it doesn't say anything about communication style. – Max Williams Jan 5 '18 at 16:15
  • Possible duplicate of A word that means "of few words" or "without words" – sumelic Jan 5 '18 at 16:17
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    @MetaEd the OP accepted Lawrence's answer like ten hours ago, the OP recognized and knew what the phrase was when Lawrence posted the answer, so the OP accepted. You could say the game had finished. The winner, so to speak, has been declared. – Mari-Lou A Jan 5 '18 at 19:32

Consider calling him a man of few words.

of few words phrase Taciturn. ‘he's a man of few words’ - ODO

  • @TONYLEECD You're welcome. :) – Lawrence Jan 5 '18 at 8:56
  • I think that "taciturn" and "laconic" (see @Peter's answer) are both good suggestions and have subtly different meanings, see wikidiff.com/taciturn/laconic I personally think "laconic" is better because it describes a more permanent attribute of a person: in other words, someone might be ordinarily talkative but taciturn when questioned by the police, for example. – Max Williams Jan 5 '18 at 16:17

You ask for "a phrase or a word": the obvious word that comes to mind is:


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

  2. dour, stern, and silent in expression and manner.


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    Haha, how odd that the dictionary's definition for the phrase I suggested was also one of few words ... in fact, a single word - taciturn. Isn't there something against single-word definitions? :) – Lawrence Jan 5 '18 at 8:36
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    @Lawrence There's definitely an appropriateness to that definition... presumably it's just acting as a pointer to the full definition listed under Taciturn. (Although it would be ironic if that entry was: Taciturn: A person of few words :-)) – TripeHound Jan 5 '18 at 8:42

I'd go with:


From Wiktionary:

Using as few words as possible; pithy and concise.

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    I guess you could add, like other answers, a small explanation of why this choice of word is correct. That should add to the word count. – Pedro Tamaroff Jan 5 '18 at 11:37
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    or a dictionary link – Mari-Lou A Jan 5 '18 at 11:41
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    You should copy paste dictionary definition – theonlygusti Jan 5 '18 at 13:18
  • I think "laconic" is better than "taciturn" because it's better suited to describing a more permanent attribute of a person: "taciturn" might be used to describe a temporary state like a mood. – Max Williams Jan 5 '18 at 16:20

I'd go with terse.

From dictionary.com:



  1. neatly or effectively concise; brief and pithy, as language.

  2. abruptly concise; curt; brusque.

With a connotation of unpleasant terseness, then you might want curt or brusque, as mentioned in definition 2 above, or as someone else suggested, taciturn.

If neutral, though, I would stick with terse.

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    Terse is better suited to describing a specific communication than it is as an attribute of a person. In other words, you might say that a conversation was terse but you wouldn't tend to say that someone was a "terse person". – Max Williams Jan 5 '18 at 16:14
  • I realize personal anecdotal evidence only goes so far, but I actually suggested this answer due to a history of multiple people literally calling me "terse" for always using only what few words I felt necessary to convey my thoughts. (I speak very differently from how I write.) But yes, even so, if the OP is looking for a specific noun to use on its own, then my answer falls flat. – Aiken Drum Jan 5 '18 at 23:26



  1. disposed to be silent or not to speak freely; reserved.

  2. reluctant or restrained.

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    That's a really good one, but you might want to add that there's a connotation associated with it. It borders on negative, but isn't quite. One may be neutrally reserved, but it's different to be reticent, more actively silent, rather than simply silent by habit. It's like the difference between a passive silence and a hushed silence. – Aiken Drum Jan 5 '18 at 23:13

monosyllabic - literally meaning words of only one syllable, it is also used to describe people using brief or few words to signify reluctance to engage in conversation. It can imply rude or unfriendly.

He grunted a monosyllabic reply


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