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

Definition of dither

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : shiver, tremble the dithering of grass— Wallace Stevens
2 : to act nervously or indecisively : vacillate dithering about what to do next There's no time to dither.



Definition of dither (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Other Words from dither


ditherer \ ˈdi-​t͟hər-​ər How to pronounce dither (audio) \ noun


dithery \ ˈdi-​t͟hə-​rē How to pronounce dither (audio) \ 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: Verb And smart people are examining all manner of ways to stave off climate change devastation, even as countries around the world seem to dither. Michael Smolenscolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 June 2022 The country is facing a humanitarian crisis, and countless allies remain trapped there, but Congress and the White House continue to dither. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 11 Feb. 2022 Republican bad behavior on voting against an increase in the debt ceiling gets short shrift while the Democrats dither on the budget. Gloria Borger, CNN, 23 Sep. 2021 While that doesn’t guarantee that the agency will ultimately give the green light to an eventual merger, KCS’s shareholders can still get paid while the bureaucrats dither. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, 31 Aug. 2021 In the current climate, regrettably, a union leader who doesn’t dither about the need for vaccine mandates in the workplace is showing real gumption. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 7 Aug. 2021 Even when engineers find dangerous damage, condo associations can dither for years. Lisa J. Huriash, sun-sentinel.com, 11 July 2021 And while news organizations dither, the Big Lie continues to spread. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 5 May 2021 The propulsion system was less efficient than expected, but the Coast Guard refused to dither. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 4 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Delay or dither and things get disproportionately worse. Helio Fred Garcia, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2021 Fishing might well represent a tiny fragment of the U.K. economy, but did that mean it should not have been protected, even at the cost of dither and delay and, even, perhaps, the freedom of other industries? Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 24 Dec. 2020 Those with intercollegiate athletic programs are in a dither figuring out what will happen to NCAA games, especially football, which is key to the identify of many universities and finances other sports at the largest schools. Dennis Wagner, USA TODAY, 5 July 2020 As Washington dithers and fights, Bexar County commissioners are taking swift action, creating a $5 million loan and grant program to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus. Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, ExpressNews.com, 24 Mar. 2020 While the Trump administration dithers and argues with Congress and trips over its own feet, the Federal Reserve has moved decisively to counteract the economic impacts of the coronavirus. Jeff Spross, TheWeek, 12 Mar. 2020 In a city short on space and high on need for homeless services, there’s no more time to dither. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, 24 Jan. 2020 As global warming becomes direr – and nations dither about decreasing emissions – could these controversial technological fixes known as geoengineering buy us time to move away from burning fossil fuels? USA Today, 24 Dec. 2019 Mr Johnson himself argued forcefully against any further dither or delay. The Economist, 3 Oct. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dither.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of dither


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1819, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dither


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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Dither.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dither. Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for dither


dith·​er | \ ˈdi-t͟hər How to pronounce dither (audio) \

Kids Definition of dither

: a very nervous or excited state The bride's parents were all in a dither.

More from Merriam-Webster on dither

Nglish: Translation of dither for Spanish Speakers


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