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

Harris’s vacillations seem indicative of the risks for candidates who are looking to match Sanders’s clarity of rhetoric, without a full commitment to substance. Osita Nwanevu, The New Yorker, "The Democratic Divide on the Future of Health Care," 28 June 2019 That offer, made at a White House news conference, evoked a vacillation between threats and diplomacy that characterized the U.S. administration’s recent engagement with North Korea. Asa Fitch, WSJ, "Iran’s Supreme Leader Rules Out U.S. Talks in Trump-esque Style," 13 Aug. 2018 Others think that such vacillations might encode and transmit information. Quanta Magazine, "The Beasts That Keep the Beat," 22 Mar. 2016 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

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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Statistics for vacillation

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for vacillation

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

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Comments on vacillation

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to complain fretfully

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