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[dihth -er] /ˈdɪð ər/
a trembling; vibration.
a state of flustered excitement or fear.
verb (used without object)
to act irresolutely; vacillate.
North England. to tremble with excitement or fear.
Origin of dither
late Middle English
1640-50; variant of didder (late Middle English diddere); cf. dodder1
Related forms
ditherer, noun
dithery, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dither
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The planks at his feet had started to dither again, and practice told him that the vessel must be moving.

    The Hero of Panama

    F. S. Brereton
  • Without the stimulus of nature before him it was difficult to preserve the "dither" in the drawing, and the life has escaped.

  • There must be enough play between the vital parts to allow of some movement; "dither" is, I believe, the Scotch word for it.

  • About seventy-five per cent of the golfers who follow the usual tuition are "all of a dither."

    The Soul of Golf Percy Adolphus Vaile
  • Every new batch of fluff-balls drove him to a dither of vicarious maternity.

    Wilderness of Spring Edgar Pangborn
  • The voice broke and the colonel, who habitually roared forth his sentiments, began to dither.

    Windy McPherson's Son Sherwood Anderson
  • Imagine anyone trying to get the Old Man into a dither—and getting away with it.

    The Best Made Plans Everett B. Cole
British Dictionary definitions for dither


verb (intransitive)
(mainly Brit) to be uncertain or indecisive
(mainly US) to be in an agitated state
to tremble, as with cold
(mainly Brit) a state of indecision
a state of agitation
Derived Forms
ditherer, noun
dithery, adjective
Word Origin
C17: variant of C14 (northern English dialect) didder, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dither

1640s, "to quake, tremble," phonetic variant of Middle English didderen (late 14c.), of uncertain origin. The sense of "vacillate, be anxious" is from 1819. Related: Dithered; dithering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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