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

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Examples of vacillation in a Sentence

the president was soundly criticized for his vacillation before responding to the crisis

Recent Examples on the Web

That's anything but a certainty, though, given Trump's constant vacillations on issues like this. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "How Republicans could call Trump’s bluff on separating families," 20 June 2018 Both Jolly and Brown say Trump's frequent policy vacillations may be a major factor driving the wave of Republican retirements, with dozens of GOP members announcing plans to exit Congress this year. NBC News, "Forget a GOP civil war — the biggest fight plaguing Hill Republicans may be Trump vs. Trump," 18 June 2018 There were no real jumps or serious dips—just some standard vacillation. Lindsey Lanquist, SELF, "I Tracked My Heart Rate While Watching the 10 'Scariest' Movies on Netflix," 14 June 2018 Mr Trump’s vacillation is likely to have given Mr Moon even more pause for thought about the durability of any deal that may be reached between Mr Trump and Mr Kim. The Economist, "Detente between America and North Korea seems back on track," 31 May 2018 All the while, Trump forces news outlets to chronicle his vacillations. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "President Trump, your source for breaking news about North Korea," 29 May 2018 Diane and Nick go through wild vacillations in their relationship, from open contempt to a gunshot, through a second honeymoon phase, and finally to a murkier, rockier roller-coaster ride. Michael Ordoña,, "Molly Shannon on 'Divorce' and that dark, pivotal pilot scene," 1 May 2018 But if his true preferences are pro-Russian, then his vacillation between following his gut instincts and the wishes of his advisers could be explained by simple indecisiveness. Scott Radnitz, Washington Post, "If Putin has kompromat on Trump, how might he use it?," 24 Apr. 2018 In an interview with a writer for The Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Mr. Forman talked of Goya’s vacillation between unfettered expression and a desire to please, in terms that recalled a tension between his own artistic urges and the lure of success. Michael Cieply,, "Milos Forman, 86, Oscar-winning director of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’," 14 Apr. 2018

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.

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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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to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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