vacillate

verb vac·il·late \ ˈva-sə-ˌlāt \
Updated on: 21 Nov 2017

Definition of vacillate

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

vacillatingly

play \ˈva-sə-ˌlā-tiŋ-lē\ adverb

vacillator

play \ˈva-sə-ˌlā-tər\ noun

Examples of vacillate in a Sentence

  1. She has vacillated on this issue.

  2. vacillated for so long that someone else stepped in and made the decision

Recent Examples of vacillate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of vacillate

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

VACILLATE Defined for English Language Learners

vacillate

verb

Definition of vacillate for English Language Learners

  • : to repeatedly change your opinions or desires


VACILLATE Defined for Kids

vacillate

verb vac·il·late \ ˈva-sə-ˌlāt \

Definition of vacillate for Students

vacillated; vacillating
: to hesitate between courses or opinions : be unable to choose


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