hesitate

verb
hes·​i·​tate | \ ˈhe-zə-ˌtāt How to pronounce hesitate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce hesitatingly (audio) \ 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

But don’t hesitate to use several of these at once, or even to include these gems as part of a larger mix of art work. Elizabeth Pash, House Beautiful, "You Need to Know About Francois Lembo's Jeweled Mirrors," 12 Apr. 2019 Your best tool, however, is awareness of the problem, so don’t hesitate to find out. Lily Puckett, Teen Vogue, "7 Reasons Why Your Vagina Is Itchy," 28 Mar. 2019 Be warned: For Americans, asking prices are likely to be inflated. Don’t hesitate to haggle. Albion Land, WSJ, "If You’re Thinking About Retiring in Spain," 20 Nov. 2018 The ships will also likely carry weapons, giving the fleet greater firepower and an asset commanders won’t hesitate to send on the most dangerous missions, since that won't mean endangering the lives of sailors. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Navy Wants To Build a “Ghost Fleet” of Drone Warships," 14 Mar. 2019 According to royal reporter Emily Andrews, the prince didn't hesitate to jump into parent mode. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Prince Harry Clears the Room to Comfort 15-Year-Old Boy Who Lost His Dad," 1 Feb. 2019 If your gut is quite literally telling you something is off, don’t hesitate to call your doctor, Dr. Beall says. Korin Miller, SELF, "6 Gastrointestinal Issues That Can Affect You During Pregnancy," 14 Dec. 2018 Strickland said Schellenger wouldn’t hesitate to do anything for her. Philly.com, "Philadelphia developer stabbed to death near Rittenhouse Square," 13 July 2018 On Thursday, Johnson didn’t hesitate to accept a duffle bag. David Hernandez, sandiegouniontribune.com, "National City to hand out duffle bags to homeless people," 22 June 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

18 Apr 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 How to pronounce hesitate (audio) \
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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