vac·​il·​la·​tion | \ ˌva-sə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce vacillation (audio) \

Definition of vacillation

1 : an act or instance of vacillating
2 : 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 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 Yasmin Tayag, The Atlantic, 8 Apr. 2022 The Trump administration’s tilt toward Riyadh and an Israel-Arab détente has been replaced by vacillation.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 Superstitious thinking requires a massive investment of energy; the vacillation between hopefulness and despair is what fuels the perpetual thinker’s unending inquiry into what this or that new detail means. Agnes Callard, Harper’s Magazine , 16 Feb. 2022 The Chinese are said to take the long view of history, unlike their vacillation-prone American rivals. WSJ, 28 Dec. 2021 This would require a change in the culture at the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom from one of timidity and vacillation to one of decisiveness and courage—not an easy business. WSJ, 17 Oct. 2021 There’s no ambiguity on this score, simply a vacillation between mostly depicting him as cold-blooded and occasionally tossing in a gesture towards feeling lonely in the suburbs because that’s where this season is set. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 15 Oct. 2021 Fonda nails her character’s vacillation between integrity and her own ambition, tapping into the era of America’s first cultural reckoning with television news as entertainment. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 23 Feb. 2021 Education leaders say they were not terribly surprised by the administration’s vacillation, as the 100-day plan was always vague and largely symbolic. Erica L. Green,, 12 Feb. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vacillation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of vacillation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vacillation

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

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

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Last Updated

15 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vacillation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on vacillation

Nglish: Translation of vacillation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vacillation for Arabic Speakers


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