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 hesitate (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 Lohn worries that parents or others traveling with children might hesitate to get their children vaccinated, which would prevent their group from being able to cross the border. Maya Miller, Star Tribune, 19 July 2021 Evidence suggests that some Latina mothers may hesitate to seek help because of stigmas associated with mental illness, as well as cultural expectations surrounding motherhood and the traditional roles of women in Latin societies. Los Angeles Times, 2 July 2021 Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any tips, questions or thoughts through ProPublica or directly to me through my Twitter account, @cdrentz. Catherine Rentz, ProPublica, 18 June 2021 Still, lawyers and other experts said history has shown that at least some jurors might hesitate to convict police officers on the most serious charges. Mark Berman, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Apr. 2021 Still, lawyers and other experts said history has shown that at least some jurors might hesitate to convict police officers on the most serious charges. Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2021 There is wide agreement among public health and medical professionals that people should not hesitate to take Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in favor of other COVID-19 immunizations. Meredith Cohn, baltimoresun.com, 25 Feb. 2021 Du said that doctors should not hesitate to escalate measures for patients facing respiratory distress, as organ failure can set in quickly after. Fortune, 9 Mar. 2020 The red-hot condo market could cool as buyers might hesitate to buy in older buildings, worried that the buildings have put off maintenance and that mammoth repair bills could be coming, brokers say. Amber Randall, sun-sentinel.com, 6 July 2021

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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Time Traveler for hesitate

Time Traveler

The first known use of hesitate was in 1598

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Dictionary Entries Near hesitate

hesitant

hesitate

hesitation

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Statistics for hesitate

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hesitate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hesitate. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on hesitate

Nglish: Translation of hesitate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hesitate for Arabic Speakers

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