Synonym Chooser

How does the verb hesitate differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of hesitate are falter, vacillate, and waver. While all these words mean "to show irresolution or uncertainty," hesitate implies a pause before deciding or acting or choosing.

hesitated before answering the question

When might falter be a better fit than hesitate?

The words falter and hesitate are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, falter implies a wavering or stumbling and often connotes nervousness, lack of courage, or outright fear.

never once faltered during her testimony

In what contexts can vacillate take the place of hesitate?

The synonyms vacillate and hesitate are sometimes interchangeable, but vacillate implies prolonged hesitation from inability to reach a firm decision.

vacillated until events were out of control

Where would waver be a reasonable alternative to hesitate?

Although the words waver and hesitate have much in common, waver implies hesitation after seeming to decide and so connotes weakness or a retreat.

wavered in his support of the rebels

Thesaurus Entries Near hesitate

Cite this Entry

“Hesitate.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/hesitate. Accessed 31 May. 2023.

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