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 Although hesitant at first, a nursing home administrator agreed to a trial visit. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "Houston area volunteer discusses pandemic’s impact on pet therapy," 11 July 2020 While Churchill Downs has announced the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby will take place with a limited number of fans in the seats on September 5, some may be hesitant to throw down hundreds on a new outfit. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Is this the year to swap your hat? How to join the Kentucky Derby Hat Exchange," 11 July 2020 The hesitant start and ensuing boom prove the budding interest in esports at high schools, but also demonstrate how teams can be a difficult sell. Michael Mccleary, The Indianapolis Star, "Anderson High School's Esports team jumpstarted students, school's tech innovation," 23 June 2020 The left guard is not hesitant about returning to the field. Tyler Dragon, The Enquirer, "Cincinnati Bengals guard Michael Jordan ready to take game 'further' in second season," 8 July 2020 Now that the weather is nicer and people are itching to spend more time outside (and may still be hesitant to return to gyms), there's a new workout craze taking over: roller skating. Amanda Tarlton, USA TODAY, "Roller skates are selling out everywhere—here’s where to buy them," 1 July 2020 Experts are hesitant to use this drug alone in the clinic if it is approved. Natalya Ortolano, STAT, "Experimental HIV drug seems effective at a twice-a-year dose, study finds," 1 July 2020 The defensive coaches weren’t hesitant to make moves in the secondary, either. oregonlive, "Oregon State 2020 football position preview: Beavers hope many moves at acquiring talent pay off at safety," 30 June 2020 Weren’t some scientists hesitant to use corticosteroids to treat COVID-19 because of the risk of weakening the body’s response to the virus? Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "Common Steroid Could Be Cheap and Effective Treatment for Severe COVID-19," 17 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

2 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

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