hes·​i·​tan·​cy | \ ˈhe-zə-tən(t)-sē How to pronounce hesitancy (audio) \

Definition of hesitancy

1 : the quality or state of being hesitant: such as
a : slowness in acting or deciding due to doubt or uncertainty : indecision He often reminded me of Orwell, not so much in feature as by a kind of hesitancy of manner, as if thinking for a second about the true meaning of what had been said before committing himself …— Anthony Powell
b : lack of willingness or eagerness to do something : reluctance She took that drastic step only with the greatest hesitancy. This hesitancy to hire is one of the reasons companies are so unfazed by the possibility of the economy slowing.— Rob Norton I was naturally a little hesitant about asking exactly how much he did earn—but there was no hesitancy on his part as he flourished his pay slip.— Richard Carver — see also vaccine hesitancy
2 plural hesitancies : an act or instance of being hesitant : hesitation sense 1 … he speaks in a cheerful, self-deprecating fashion that seems to preclude silences or hesitancies on either side of a conversation.— Roger Angell
3 medical : urinary hesitancy … his chief complaint was hesitancy and intermittency of urination.— Ari J. Isaacson

Examples of hesitancy in a Sentence

his appointment to the superintendency was confirmed by the school board without the least hesitancy his hesitancy in pulling over into the next lane while he had a chance resulted in him missing his exit
Recent Examples on the Web Vaccine hesitancy, the easing of pandemic restrictions and a variety of logistical problems have hampered vaccination efforts in many countries. New York Times, 2 June 2022 There’s still some hesitancy to return because of the virus, but many people have just gotten out of the habit of going. Ryan Faughnderstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2022 Abrams pointed to her work not only in establishing Fair Fight, her voting rights group, but also to the group's purchase and forgiveness of medical debt and work to overcome hesitancy against the COVID-19 vaccine. Jeff Amy, ajc, 15 Mar. 2022 Milkman doesn’t claim that texts will overcome vaccine hesitancy. Sarah Todd, Quartz, 3 Feb. 2022 Only half of Americans get their yearly flu shot, and in a country like the U.S. with significant vaccine hesitancy, there is a limit to what annual vaccination campaigns can accomplish. Josh Morrison, STAT, 13 Feb. 2022 But while its zero-Covid approach has shielded residents from rising hospitalizations, the city has struggled with vaccine hesitancy -- despite free shots being available to residents over age 3. Eric Cheung, CNN, 4 Jan. 2022 Problems with hesitancy are intertwined with supply issues, some experts argue, in part due to halts in vaccinations due to waits for doses. Washington Post, 2 Dec. 2021 While South Africa has struggled with hesitancy, among other issues, other countries have distributed their doses fairly quickly and have asked for more supply. Yasmeen Abutaleb And Lesley Wroughton, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Nov. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of hesitancy

1617, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of hesitancy was in 1617

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Last Updated

26 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hesitancy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hesitancy. Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for hesitancy


hes·​i·​tan·​cy | \ ˈhe-zə-tən-sē How to pronounce hesitancy (audio) \

Kids Definition of hesitancy

: the quality or state of being unwilling to do something because of doubt or nervousness


hes·​i·​tan·​cy | \ ˈhez-ə-tən(t)-sē How to pronounce hesitancy (audio) \

Medical Definition of hesitancy

: the quality or state of being hesitant: such as
a : lack of willingness or eagerness to do something hesitancy to report symptoms — see also vaccine hesitancy
b : urinary hesitancy One patient had symptoms of urinary incontinence, frequency, nocturia and hesitancy— Ray Addison, Nursing Times

More from Merriam-Webster on hesitancy

Nglish: Translation of hesitancy for Spanish Speakers


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