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.

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Don’t hesitate to obtain quotes from multiple insurers. Jim Probasco, Fortune, 28 Sep. 2022 Shurney didn’t hesitate inviting Katya’s now family of three to stay with them in their new place until they could get settled more permanently elsewhere. Tim Rizzo, Washington Post, 28 Sep. 2022 Nelson Agholor didn’t hesitate for even a split second. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, 27 Sep. 2022 When asked what the takeaway from this experience will be, Wilson didn’t hesitate. Stacey Gualandi, Rolling Stone, 23 Sep. 2022 While this prop is a bit pricey, don’t hesitate to grab it. Bob Wankel | Xl Media, cleveland, 17 Sep. 2022 Don’t hesitate to look into some other dine-in restaurant options that will also be open for service on Thanksgiving. Cameron Jenkins, Good Housekeeping, 16 Sep. 2022 Don't hesitate to utilize this positive energy by linking up with some of your favorite people. Chicago Tribune, 13 Sep. 2022 Daboll didn’t hesitate to keep his offense on the field for the 2-point conversion, which snapped the Giants’ skid of five straight losses in season openers. Teresa M. Walker, Hartford Courant, 12 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

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

3 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hesitate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hesitate. Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for hesitate

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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