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


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

And so all tech companies who have experienced missing out on a platform shift are a little bit hesitant to miss out again. Recode Staff, Recode, "Why ‘Star Wars’ is like a social network, and other insights from Eugene Wei on Recode Media," 13 July 2018 Democrats also have been hesitant to support any policies backed by President Trump. Natalie Andrews, WSJ, "U.S.-Mexico Trade Pact Faces Scrutiny From Lawmakers at Home," 30 Aug. 2018 In the at-home selfie moment, the woman in the couple is hesitant to participate in the photo until she is done applying her makeup. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Huawei was caught using a pro camera to fake smartphone photos (again)," 20 Aug. 2018 Republicans in the House and Senate introduced bills earlier this month to implement all six suggestions, but legislative leaders have been hesitant to support the measures. Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com, "Kasich to sign executive order about background checks for gun purchases," 23 Apr. 2018 That’s one reason congressional Republicans would be hesitant to support a raise. Emily Atkin, New Republic, "The Solution to Trump’s Infrastructure Problems: Raise the Gas Tax," 13 Feb. 2018 Carmel Schools should offer 'a lot more' than high-ability cluster groups, expert says Experts are hesitant to say whether grouping gifted students in regular classrooms is the best choice for Carmel Clay Schools. Joe Tamborello, Indianapolis Star, "Mosque snags, Ruoff concerts, Portillo's cake & Carmel's gifted program," 9 Apr. 2018 Prince William was infamously hesitant to settle down with Kate, and the couple even broke up briefly in 2007 before eventually reuniting, getting married, and making the cutest trio of royal babies the world has ever seen. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince William Said "No, I Don't Think So" When Asked About Marrying Kate Middleton Back in 2005," 22 Dec. 2018 As Trump made his way back to Washington, the prevailing sentiment among members of Congress on Tuesday morning was one of hesitant optimism. Nash Jenkins, Time, "Lawmakers Are Hesitant to Judge the North Korea Summit Just Yet," 12 June 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

6 Mar 2019

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 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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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

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