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

Other Words from hesitant

hesitantly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for hesitant



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Some parents who weren't familiar with the holiday were hesitant at first. Meirav Devash, Allure, 28 Sep. 2022 Simms-Cendan, the president-elect of the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, said parents who might have been hesitant in the past now want to discuss birth control. Heather Hollingsworth, Fortune, 27 Sep. 2022 Decisiveness is starting to be part of the vocabulary instead of being hesitant, and that comes with knowledge of the offense. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, 26 Sep. 2022 The other members of the association were hesitant at first, Frie said, and unsure of how the community would react. Madeline Heim, Journal Sentinel, 15 Sep. 2022 Yet, Roberts was hesitant Wednesday to cement them in such roles. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2022 Baby Michael was hesitant at first to try the tasty treat, but there’s nothing like a new adventure. Matt Preis, USA TODAY, 13 Sep. 2022 At a time when U.S. leadership is hesitant if not flatly wrong, such as in the tragic decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, British resolve is critical to sustain and advance Western interests. John Bolton, WSJ, 6 Sep. 2022 However hesitant Americans are about Novavax, for whatever reasons, the situation is quite the opposite elsewhere. Erin Prater, Fortune, 17 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of hesitant

1647, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hesitant

see hesitate

Learn More About hesitant

Time Traveler for hesitant

Time Traveler

The first known use of hesitant was in 1647

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near hesitant




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for hesitant

Last Updated

2 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hesitant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hesitant. Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for hesitant


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

More from Merriam-Webster on hesitant

Nglish: Translation of hesitant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hesitant for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!