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dith·​er ˈdi-t͟hər How to pronounce dither (audio)
dithered; dithering ˈdi-t͟h(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce dither (audio)

intransitive verb

: shiver, tremble
the dithering of grassWallace Stevens
: to act nervously or indecisively : vacillate
dithering about what to do next
There's no time to dither.
ditherer noun


2 of 2


: a highly nervous, excited, or agitated state : excitement, confusion
The news of her arrival had us all in a dither.
dithery adjective

Examples of dither in a Sentence

Verb We don't have time to dither. She did not dither about what to do next. Noun Grandma usually gets in a dither if I don't make my weekly call. we were all in a dither while we waited for the test results
Recent Examples on the Web
Should that dithering university president really have called in the police? The Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, 7 May 2024 The final package was a long time coming and came together after months of dithering by Johnson, who was under intense pressure by leaders from both sides of the aisle to advance foreign aid. USA TODAY, 20 Apr. 2024 The stock market ended up rewarding those who left immediately while punishing those who dithered. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Fortune, 22 Mar. 2024 With no political solution in sight, the international community dithering and the gangs promising only more chaos, Haiti seems set for nothing but more pain. Matt Rivers, ABC News, 20 Mar. 2024 Johnson’s decision comes after a day of dithering on Tuesday as conservatives pressured the speaker to change the plan surrounding the four bills to include spending cuts and changes to border and migrant policy. USA TODAY, 17 Apr. 2024 Editorial: House Speaker Mike Johnson must stop dithering on Ukraine aid and hold a vote. Ryan Fonseca, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2024 The former Israeli commander has lost both a son and a nephew in the fighting in Gaza and accused Netanyahu this week of dithering and avoiding the necessary deliberations about what postwar Gaza should look like. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2024 But Beijing dithered, and so financial markets, worried under so much questionable debt, had not the resources to support adequate economic growth. Milton Ezrati, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2024
Democrats are raising alarms that Vladimir Putin could advance on Kyiv while Congress dithers. David D. Kirkpatrick, The New Yorker, 15 Mar. 2024 And as the bodies pile up in the streets, the U.N. dithers with resolutions. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, 3 Sep. 2023 This film dithers for three hours, as if viewers were also morally uncertain and aesthetically gullible. Armond White, National Review, 21 July 2023 Center Theatre Group, in a dither after Michael Ritchie’s lackluster tenure, is undergoing a search for its new leader. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2023 Don’t know why Cowboys fans are all in a dither about Jerry Jones trading for Deebo Samuel, who wants out of San Francisco. Dallas News, 26 Apr. 2022 This version takes Jones, a charismatic actress with a lithe, flexible voice, and gives her little to do except stress and dither. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, 8 Aug. 2022 In this case, the focal family is all in a dither, readying for a Christmas trip to Paris. Duane Bygre, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Nov. 2022 Delay or dither and things get disproportionately worse. Helio Fred Garcia, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dither.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



variant of didder in same sense (with [dr̥] > [ðr̥] as in father entry 1, gather entry 1), going back to Middle English dideren "to tremble, shiver," of imitative origin


derivative of dither entry 1

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1819, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dither was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near dither

Cite this Entry

“Dither.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dither. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
dith·​er ˈdit͟h-ər How to pronounce dither (audio)
: a highly nervous or excited state
the news had him in a dither


2 of 2 verb
dithered; dithering
: to act nervously or indecisively

More from Merriam-Webster on dither

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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