hesitate

verb
hes·​i·​tate | \ ˈhe-zə-ˌtāt \
hesitated; hesitating

Definition of hesitate

intransitive verb

1 : to hold back in doubt or indecision She didn't hesitate when they offered her the job.
2 : to delay momentarily : pause He hesitated and waited for her to say something.
3 : stammer

transitive verb

: to hold back from (doing or saying something) in doubt or uncertainty Don't hesitate to call if you need something.

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Other Words from hesitate

hesitater noun
hesitatingly \ ˈhe-​zə-​ˌtā-​tiŋ-​lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for hesitate

hesitate, waver, vacillate, falter mean to show irresolution or uncertainty. hesitate implies a pause before deciding or acting or choosing. hesitated before answering the question waver implies hesitation after seeming to decide and so connotes weakness or a retreat. wavered in his support of the rebels vacillate implies prolonged hesitation from inability to reach a firm decision. vacillated until events were out of control falter implies a wavering or stumbling and often connotes nervousness, lack of courage, or outright fear. never once faltered during her testimony

Examples of hesitate in a Sentence

She hesitated and waited for her friend to say something. He hesitated about accepting the job. I sometimes hesitate to say what I am really thinking. I hesitated to come without being asked. I wouldn't hesitate to ask for your help if I felt I needed it. Don't hesitate to call if there is a problem.
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Recent Examples on the Web

When the Ball brothers were asked if their teammates were jealous, LiAngelo didn’t hesitate to say yes. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "LiAngelo Ball said that his Lithuanian teammates were jealous of him," 14 June 2018 Moore didn’t hesitate when asked Thursday night what his best asset is, pointing to his playmaking ability. Joseph Person, charlotteobserver, "Panthers get choice of wide receivers, take Maryland's D.J. Moore in first round | Charlotte Observer," 26 Apr. 2018 Doctors who had once treated pain like a vital sign, basing opioid prescriptions on patients’ subjective ratings of their suffering, were suddenly hesitating. Anchorage Daily News, "Unintended consequences: Inside the fallout of America’s crackdown on opioids," 17 June 2018 Some lawmakers and experts say that because of legislatures' failure to confront the problem aggressively, victims hesitate to come forward for fear of ridicule, isolation, and retaliation. David A. Lieb, The Christian Science Monitor, "Most US legislatures keep no public sexual harassment records," 11 Apr. 2018 Cultural and family values can also make students hesitate to seek help. Laurie Tarkan, courant.com, "Colleges Scramble To Meet Soaring Demand For Anxiety, Depression Counseling," 27 Mar. 2018 If your child has a flat spot on their head, don't hesitate to flag it for their pediatrician. Korin Miller, SELF, "My Son, Like Chrissy Teigen’s, Wore a Corrective Helmet as a Baby for a Flat Spot," 4 Dec. 2018 Always a romantic, Justin didn't hesitate to show Hailey his love. Isabella Gomez, Teen Vogue, "Justin and Hailey Bieber Wore Matching Jerseys at a Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Game," 25 Nov. 2018 Comments like these tap into a growing line of thinking in the ruling party, although most lawmakers hesitate to challenge Mr. Abe directly. Megumi Fujikawa, WSJ, "Abe Rival: Millions of Japanese Are Falling Behind Under Abenomics," 21 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hesitate.' 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 hesitate

1598, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for hesitate

Latin haesitatus, past participle of haesitare to stick fast, hesitate, frequentative of haerēre to stick

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Statistics for hesitate

Last Updated

10 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hesitate

The first known use of hesitate was in 1598

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More Definitions for hesitate

hesitate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of hesitate

: to stop briefly before you do something especially because you are nervous or unsure about what to do

: to be unwilling to do something because of doubt or uncertainty

hesitate

verb
hes·​i·​tate | \ ˈhe-zə-ˌtāt \
hesitated; hesitating

Kids Definition of hesitate

1 : to pause before doing something He hesitated before crossing the stream.
2 : to be unwilling to do something because of doubt or nervousness Don't hesitate to ask for help.

Other Words from hesitate

hesitation \ ˌhez-​ə-​ˈtā-​shən \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on hesitate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hesitate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hesitate

Spanish Central: Translation of hesitate

Nglish: Translation of hesitate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hesitate for Arabic Speakers

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