I'm working on a humorous project in which one character is called the Outspoken Mime.

The adjective "outspoken" means the mime in question is "free, bold, or unreserved in speech." On one side, this describes the mime as gregarious, talkative, and friendly — while visually implying the mime literally speaks out, making the character a walking oxymoron.

Is there an antonym to "outspoken" that could imply the opposite double meaning? Something to suggest a different mime is shy or reclusive, while visually appearing to (redundantly) claim they do not talk?

  • 1
    Would soft-spoken work for you? – JLG Aug 23 '12 at 16:15
  • It isn't clear to me from the question whether your mime or mimes (which is it?) speak out loud or not, or what characteristics you want to emphasize. Does “visually appearing” refer to how the word looks, or how a mime looks? If the latter, which mime, if there's more than one? – James Waldby - jwpat7 Aug 23 '12 at 16:38
  • The Speechless Orator? (or taciturn, mute, dumb, closemouthed, &c) – StoneyB Aug 23 '12 at 18:25
  • @jwpat7 Sorry for the confusion, I meant visual as in the visual pun when reading the word itself. I was looking for an anytonym that shared a similar visual play on words. – 4444 Aug 23 '12 at 18:38
  • There is no literal antonym to outspoken because outspoken has no literal sense. It does not mean to speak out (*He outspoke at the town meeting last night); it's always metaphorical and means to behave in certain ways which may upset certain people by not acknowledging certain cultural values (which ways of behaving, which people, and which cultural values all vary from usage to usage), and it's always generic -- i.e, it refers to a character trait, not to a literal habit of speech. – John Lawler Aug 23 '12 at 18:50

I'd suggest taciturn:

: temperamentally disinclined to talk

or even closemouthed:

: cautious in speaking : uncommunicative; also : secretive

  • I like closemouthed, in that it can serve as that oxymoronish double-pun that the O.P. seeks. – J.R. Aug 23 '12 at 17:15
  • @J.R. precisely why I included it. :) – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Aug 23 '12 at 17:38
  • Similarly, tight-lipped. – Rachel Aug 23 '12 at 18:23
  • Chalk one up for "closemouthed," it almost has a feel of secrecy to it. What isn't he saying... – 4444 Aug 23 '12 at 18:39

Reticent, “keeping one's thoughts and opinions to oneself; reserved or restrained” might be relevant. Also cagey, in sense “uncommunicative; unwilling or hesitant to give information” and conceivably prosy or prosaic.

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    +1 for reticent, but I don't see what prosy/prosaic have to do with this question. By my lights, prosy isn't even a word anyway. – FumbleFingers Aug 23 '12 at 17:25
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    @FumbleFingers – Prosy not a word?! You must have your lights turned off. :) Etymonline says “1814, from prose + -y”. Wiktionary says “Unpoetic (of speech or writing); dull and unimaginative” or “Behaving in a dull way (of a person)”. The question is somewhat ambiguous, but one may think of a dull mime as opposite to an interesting one. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Aug 23 '12 at 18:20

While not exactly "shy or reclusive", you might find the wordplay involved in mum or even mummy quite a good fit. The alliteration is a bonus :)


The word you want is "introverted", which has the additional benefit of beginning with "in", in direct contrast to the "out" of "outspoken".

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