dither

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

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Other Words from dither

Verb

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

Noun

dithery \ ˈdi-​t͟hə-​rē How to pronounce dithery (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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 In Europe and the United States, governments dithered about whether and when to institute draconian but necessary measures like social distancing, school closures, and shelter-in-place orders. Adam Rogers, Wired, "The Asian Countries That Beat Covid-19 Have to Do It Again," 6 Apr. 2020 While the president raged and Republicans dithered, Democrats organized. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Republican Party’s Deafening Silence," 2 Oct. 2019 One bright spot in this tragedy is seeing officials engage in how best to help the homeless population quickly in a city that has dithered as the number of unsheltered residents has swelled. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "Gutted by coronavirus outbreak, San Francisco’s poshest hotels compete for new clientele: quarantined residents," 23 Mar. 2020 Adding to the frustration was the fact that Congress dithered for days after the loan program ran out. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "House poised to pass $484 billion package to help small businesses, bolster hospitals and coronavirus testing," 23 Apr. 2020 When McClellan, a stone-cold racist, was opposing any steps toward emancipation, and Lincoln was still dithering, Stevens favored immediately freeing Southern slaves and arming them to fight against their masters. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Did Lincoln Really Matter?," 3 Feb. 2020 This was a time for action, not dithering, and the IOC belatedly stepped up. Los Angeles Times, "Column: IOC ultimately made the smart decision by postponing Tokyo Olympics until 2021," 24 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Instead, he and scriptwriter Taylor Sheridan (who wrote the original) dither away into subplots, including one that is ludicrously contrived and seems designed to continue the franchise. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "‘Sicario’ sequel straddles the border," 28 June 2018 Followers have long suspected that Bey at the very least would release new music before the tour was over, so the arrival announcement promptly sent the internet into a dither. refinery29.com, "You Are Not Beyoncé. You Do Not Want To Get Paid Only In Equity.," 18 June 2018

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for dither

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dither

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dither.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dither. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for dither

dither

verb
How to pronounce dither (audio)

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on dither

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dither

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dither

Spanish Central: Translation of dither

Nglish: Translation of dither for Spanish Speakers

Comments on dither

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