vac·​il·​la·​tion ˌva-sə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce vacillation (audio)
: an act or instance of vacillating
: inability to take a stand : irresolution, indecision

Examples of vacillation in a Sentence

the president was soundly criticized for his vacillation before responding to the crisis
Recent Examples on the Web The big surprise is that China appears to have stepped in to fill the vacuum left by American vacillation in the Middle East. David A. Andelman, CNN, 11 Mar. 2023 Her ability to keep her word flow off-balance matched her vacillation between strength and weakness, happiness and sadness, codependence and independence. Bob Gendron, Chicago Tribune, 23 Feb. 2023 The team official placed blame for the league's vacillation squarely on Vincent. Dave Clark, The Enquirer, 10 Jan. 2023 Ambivalence became vacillation, subtlety melted into evasion. Fintan O’Toole, The New York Review of Books, 21 Dec. 2022 Voters’ vacillation between a long career ahead and the thrill of honoring a career found late in life was evident in the voting results. Leila Cobo, Billboard, 17 Nov. 2022 Medo’s vacillation between moneymaking and altruism has profoundly shaped this new industry. Sushma Subramanian, Washington Post, 13 May 2022 After our fleeting brush with normalcy during Omicron’s retreat, another very transmissible new version of the coronavirus is on the rise—and with it, a fresh wave of vacillation between mask-donning and mask-doffing. Yasmin Tayag, The Atlantic, 8 Apr. 2022 The Trump administration’s tilt toward Riyadh and an Israel-Arab détente has been replaced by vacillation. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 10 Jan. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vacillation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English vacillacion, borrowed from Latin vacillātiōn-, vacillātiō, from vacillāre "to be unsteady, vacillate" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of vacillation was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near vacillation

Cite this Entry

“Vacillation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

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