hesitant

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from hesitant

hesitantly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for hesitant

Synonyms

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

Antonyms

disposed, inclined

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

Davis has grown hesitant to throw strikes at Coors Field. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kickin’ It with Kiz: Is soccer star Megan Rapinoe or president Donald Trump a better representative of American ideals?," 29 June 2019 With eyes shut or wide open, fully present or cynically hesitant, there’s no escaping the circle. Flora Tsapovsky, SFChronicle.com, "Why is every activity making us sit in a circle right now?," 26 June 2019 Almost all of them are transient, coming and going as needed, which makes villagers hesitant to trust. USA Today, "Alaska is considered the deadliest state for women. A staggering 59% of women there have experienced violence.," 25 June 2019 Has anyone balked at donating? Mr. Benetton pauses, looking uncharacteristically hesitant. John Hooper, WSJ, "Collecting the Whole World’s Images," 13 June 2019 This is what makes many employees hesitant to innovative in the first place. Bob Dusin, Quartz at Work, "To be your most authentic self at work, get better at pretending," 13 June 2019 After six months of isolation, Philip is awkward and hesitant to venture out. Ann Neumann, Harper's magazine, "Going to Extremes," 10 June 2019 Public-health workers try to focus on reaching parents who are considered hesitant about vaccinations but receptive to information. Ryan Blethen, The Seattle Times, "How do you persuade people to vaccinate? Clark County measles outbreak highlights the difficulties," 13 Apr. 2019 Other regulators, such as those in China, may be hesitant to follow the FAA’s leadin approving the fix. The Economist, "Boeing’s boss wins a reprieve, not redemption," 21 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of hesitant

1647, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hesitant

see hesitate

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hesitant

Statistics for hesitant

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hesitant

The first known use of hesitant was in 1647

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hesitant

hesitant

adjective

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

hesitant

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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