hes·i·tant | \ˈhe-zə-tənt \

Definition of hesitant 

: slow to act or proceed (as from fear, indecision, or unwillingness) : tending to hesitate : showing or feeling reluctance or hesitation took a hesitant step towards the door hesitant about accepting the job

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Other Words from hesitant

hesitantly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for hesitant


cagey (also cagy), disinclined, dubious, indisposed, loath (also loth), reluctant, reticent


disposed, inclined

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Choose the Right Synonym for hesitant

disinclined, hesitant, reluctant, loath, averse mean lacking the will or desire to do something indicated. disinclined implies lack of taste for or inclination. disinclined to move again disinclined for reading hesitant implies a holding back especially through fear or uncertainty. hesitant about asking for a date reluctant implies a holding back through unwillingness. a reluctant witness loath implies hesitancy because of conflict with one's opinions, predilections, or liking. seems loath to trust anyone averse implies a holding back from or avoiding because of distaste or repugnance. averse to hard work not averse to an occasional drink

Examples of hesitant in a Sentence

She took a hesitant step back from the door. He seems hesitant about accepting the job.

Recent Examples on the Web

According to sources familiar with the search, Sporting KC is aiming for a major impact addition and is hesitant to settle for a second-tier signing. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "As transfer window opens, Sporting KC sets sights on striker," 11 July 2018 Hannah Reaska, 16, a budding artist herself, was initially a bit hesitant. Susan Demar Lafferty, Daily Southtown, "Community helps 'unLock' history of city in painting a mural," 13 June 2018 Seeing limited opportunities, our best and brightest are encouraged to build their families and careers elsewhere and needed management talent to help our businesses grow is hesitant to relocate here. Scott Maxwell, OrlandoSentinel.com, "15 questions for the candidates for Orange County mayor. Where do they stand?," 24 May 2018 The Orioles could be hesitant to trade Machado to a division rival, but the Yankees have enough capital to convince Baltimore otherwise. Jesse Yomtov, USA TODAY, "Five sensible proposals for a Manny Machado trade," 23 May 2018 Though Roh eventually made the decision to to go to the North Korean capital, his administration was hesitant to do so, said Lee Jong-seok, Roh's former National Security Council chairman and unification minster. Joshua Berlinger, Paula Hancocks And Yoonjung Seo, CNN, "Dealing with North Korea: Three lessons from previous summits," 25 Apr. 2018 Schiller said the summer surge is a nationwide phenomenon that accompanies the end of the school year because: Landlords who may be reluctant to evict families during the winter are less hesitant to do so when the weather is warmer. Jeanne Houck, Cincinnati.com, "Bethany House needs donations for influx of homeless," 15 June 2018 Director Jen Poulin's hesitant Broken Nose production struggled to find its rhythms on opening night, partly because an understudy performed with script in hand. Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader, "Too many metaphors spoil the drama in Opportunities of Extinction," 15 June 2018 Two-year-old Jonathan watches, a bit more hesitant to participate. Leyla Santiago, CNN, "Migrant mom Gabriela Hernandez just got to California after weeks in caravan and detention," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hesitant.' 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 hesitant

1647, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hesitant

see hesitate

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Statistics for hesitant

Last Updated

2 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hesitant

The first known use of hesitant was in 1647

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More Definitions for hesitant



English Language Learners Definition of hesitant

: slow to act or speak especially because you are nervous or unsure about what to do : feeling or showing hesitation


hes·i·tant | \ˈhe-zə-tənt \

Kids Definition of hesitant

: feeling or showing unwillingness to do something because of doubt or nervousness I was hesitant to join in.

Other Words from hesitant

hesitantly adverb Toby read … hesitantly, as if he didn't really believe what he was saying … — Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The Egypt Game

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More from Merriam-Webster on hesitant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hesitant

Spanish Central: Translation of hesitant

Nglish: Translation of hesitant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hesitant for Arabic Speakers

Comments on hesitant

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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