vacillate

verb
vac·​il·​late | \ ˈva-sə-ˌlāt How to pronounce vacillate (audio) \
vacillated; vacillating

Definition of vacillate

intransitive verb

1 : to waver in mind, will, or feeling : hesitate in choice of opinions or courses
2a : to sway through lack of equilibrium

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Other Words from vacillate

vacillatingly \ ˈva-​sə-​ˌlā-​tiŋ-​lē How to pronounce vacillatingly (audio) \ adverb
vacillator \ ˈva-​sə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce vacillator (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for vacillate

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 vacillate in a Sentence

She has vacillated on this issue. vacillated for so long that someone else stepped in and made the decision

Recent Examples on the Web

The home quietly vacillates between high-glam and lived-in—a space distinctly her own, designed on her own terms. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Inside a Chanel Fashion Executive’s High-Glam Sutton Place Home," 26 July 2019 The violence involves Nate (Jacob Elordi), the aforementioned jock, who vacillates unbelievably between narcotized sorrow and supervillain-level plotting. Darren Franich, EW.com, "HBO's teen shock-soap Euphoria is sweeter than you think: EW review," 14 June 2019 But 2018 is expected to be close in the general election, with polls vacillating between the two candidates. Li Zhou, Vox, "August 7 primary: live results for Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, and Washington," 7 Aug. 2018 Antiwar critics of Trump’s Jacksonian rhetoric turned on a dime to blast him as a weak, vacillating leader afraid to call Iran to account. Victor Davis Hanson, The Mercury News, "Hanson: Why the US can afford to stay calm with Iran," 27 June 2019 Everything happened so fast and vacillated between confusing, funny, and cringe-y. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "Hollywood Tried to Save America with a Live Reading of the Mueller Report," 25 June 2019 Trump vacillated for months on whether to pick Shanahan, officials said. NBC News, "Trump may be having second thoughts about Shanahan as Defense Secretary," 11 June 2019 The appointments end a nearly two-week interregnum during which Mr. Macron and his prime minister vacillated, suggesting that Mr. Macron’s bench has become thin. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "Macron, Under Pressure, Walks Tight Line With Cabinet Appointments," 16 Oct. 2018 His lingering opponent, Jamie Giellis vacillated, exposing weakness and inexperience. Doug Friednash, The Denver Post, "Friednash: Hancock’s victory in the face of uncertainty pales in comparison to the mayor’s other life challenges," 9 June 2019

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

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for vacillate

borrowed from Latin vacillātus, past participle of vacillāre "to be unsteady, totter, be weak or inconstant, waver," of uncertain origin

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Statistics for vacillate

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vacillate

The first known use of vacillate was in 1597

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More Definitions for vacillate

vacillate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of vacillate

formal : to repeatedly change your opinions or desires

vacillate

verb
vac·​il·​late | \ ˈva-sə-ˌlāt How to pronounce vacillate (audio) \
vacillated; vacillating

Kids Definition of vacillate

: to hesitate between courses or opinions : be unable to choose

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Comments on vacillate

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