dither

verb
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.

dither

noun

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from dither

Verb

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

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That review window moves: Whenever lawmakers dither in D.C., the CRA review period for their successors gets later on the calendar. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Biden’s Fast Track to Reregulation," 25 Dec. 2020 While governments dither, though, climate commitments and action by corporations has gained considerable momentum since Paris. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, "Companies with serious climate goals are beating the market," 10 Dec. 2020 Approving federal judges is a priority for Mitch McConnell during the lame-duck session of Congress, but Republicans shouldn’t dither on confirming Nathan Simington to the Federal Communications Commission. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Confirmation Mischief at the FCC," 17 Nov. 2020 As firms dither, the $30trn global commercial-property market is stalked by fears of a deeper slump. The Economist, "The future of work Is the office finished?," 12 Sep. 2020 As Congress continues to dither over renewal of the federal Paycheck Protection Program, many, Rossman said, are at or near the end of their resiliency. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "State poised to release reopening rules Friday," 27 Aug. 2020 Act fast: If an exponential increase is in the cards, dithering around as New York and other places did in March will only make history repeat. Sharon Begley, STAT, "How the world can avoid screwing up the response to Covid-19 again," 5 June 2020 Waiting a second too long to return to a cell bed or dithering over when to act means the difference between failure and success. Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times, "Want to Try a Robert Bresson Film? Look to Clint Eastwood," 14 May 2020 The headline: San Francisco dithered, while Los Angeles acted and saved lives. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Podcast: Second wave of coronavirus deaths could be worse if history is any indication," 24 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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, "Why Britain’s Brexit Mayhem Was Worth It," 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, "Colleges are racing to create 'a new sense of normalcy.' Will new rules, COVID-19 testing be enough?," 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, "The New Normal: COVID-19 has turned us all into shut-ins (bless the pizza-making kits)," 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, "The Fed's $1.5 trillion intervention, explained," 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, "SF says no thanks to free housing for homeless on vacant Tenderloin lot," 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, "10 years to save planet Earth: Here are 6 imaginative climate change solutions," 24 Dec. 2019 Mr Johnson himself argued forcefully against any further dither or delay. The Economist, "Boris Johnson makes the EU an offer it can refuse," 3 Oct. 2019 To keep migrants comfortable while Democrats in Congress dither on humanitarian aid, the Trump Admin bought bedroom furniture from Wayfair. NBC News, "Wayfair workers walkout to protest company's furniture sale to migrant detention center," 26 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of dither

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1819, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dither

Verb

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

Noun

derivative of dither entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dither

Time Traveler for dither

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dither

Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dither.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dither. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dither

dither

verb

English Language Learners Definition of dither

 (Entry 1 of 2)

informal : to delay taking action because you are not sure about what to do

dither

noun

English Language Learners Definition of dither (Entry 2 of 2)

informal : a very nervous, confused, or excited state

dither

noun
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dither

Nglish: Translation of dither for Spanish Speakers

Comments on dither

What made you want to look up dither? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!