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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

Example Sentences

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
Ukrainian officials and analysts blamed the delay on Germany’s prior ties to Russia, its perceived dithering at the beginning of the war and its foot-dragging on sending heavy weaponry. Kate Brady, Washington Post, 14 May 2023 After months of dithering, Washington is finally beginning to grapple with the need to raise or suspend the federal debt limit. Ben Ritz, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2023 For his part, Riordan cast himself as battling a recalcitrant bureaucracy and a dithering, wrongheaded City Council. Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 2023 Since then, after dithering and a storm of bad publicity, Berlin has gradually increased its military support to Kyiv, committing more than $2.5 billion, according to a tracker at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. David L. Stern, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2023 While the United States has angered its Gulf allies by apparently dithering over morality, curbing arms supplies and chilling relations, Saudi Arabia’s King-in-waiting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, has found a kindred spirit in China’s leader Xi Jinping. Nic Robertson, CNN, 15 Mar. 2023 As other countries dithered, Poland shipped most of its stock of T-72 Soviet-era tanks, which Ukrainian troops could easily operate, and pressed others to send weapons. Elisabeth Zerofsky, New York Times, 4 Apr. 2023 Blue Noise Blue noise is reminiscent of a hissing garden hose and is useful for dithering — aka adding low levels of noise to audio to reduce distortion when converting to lower resolutions. Marisa Sloan, Discover Magazine, 27 Mar. 2023 At the same time, there are palpable concerns that the West dithered too long. Anastacia Galouchka, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 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 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 See More

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 4 Jun. 2023.

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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