hes·​i·​tant | \ ˈhe-zə-tənt How to pronounce hesitant (audio) \

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



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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 Four years after Kapernick kneeled and Garrett was hesitant to speak out, he feels empowered by his voice and his platform. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, "Amir Garrett unafraid to speak out about racial inequality issues: 'The time is now'," 6 July 2020 Looking for a similar service, but hesitant about signing up? Tessa Bahoosh, USA TODAY, "16 popular self-care products under $30," 2 July 2020 While some gyms have reopened with new safety protocols in place, many fitness enthusiasts remain hesitant about returning to shared facilities over coronavirus concerns. CBS News, "Lululemon buys at-home exercise startup Mirror for $500 million," 30 June 2020 Asked if the Giants would be hesitant to begin Bart’s service-time clock in a short season, Zaidi hinted the plan to call up Bart at some point this season hasn’t changed. John Shea, SFChronicle.com, "Outlook for Giants’ Gabe Kapler, Farhan Zaidi: We’re starting in a pennant race," 30 June 2020 But many politicians, even those in places with spiking cases, have been hesitant to issue such orders, as the subject has become a political lightning rod, with Democrats more likely than Republicans to use them. Paul J. Weber, BostonGlobe.com, "As cases surge in US, rural areas see increases as well," 28 June 2020 The Brown Beauty Co-Op in Washington, D.C., is seeing a spike in demand from the Buy Black movement, but its owners, Kimberly Smith and Amaya Smith, no relation, are hesitant to hire new employees. Deena Shanker, Bloomberg.com, "Black Businesses Need More Than Retail Activism to Survive," 27 June 2020 Wicker, now 82, was initially hesitant of Johnson, who often worked as a prostitute and would sometimes end up in jail as a result. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "A petition wants to replace a New Jersey city's Christopher Columbus statue with Black trans activist Marsha P. Johnson," 27 June 2020 Trustee Dustin Marshall was hesitant to support the stipend, noting repeatedly that the board was making bad fiscal decisions by having a late-hour add. Dallas News, "Dallas school trustees clash over giving coronavirus ‘heroes’ raises," 26 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for hesitant

Time Traveler

The first known use of hesitant was in 1647

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Statistics for hesitant

Last Updated

9 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hesitant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hesitant. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for hesitant


How to pronounce hesitant (audio)

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 How to pronounce hesitant (audio) \

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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