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[hez-i-tuh nt] /ˈhɛz ɪ tənt/
hesitating; undecided, doubtful, or disinclined.
lacking readiness of speech.
Origin of hesitant
1640-50; < Latin haesitant- (stem of haesitāns), present participle of haesitāre to falter, hesitate, equivalent to haes(us), past participle of haerēre to stick, hold fast + -it- frequentative suffix + -ant- -ant
Related forms
hesitantly, adverb
nonhesitant, adjective
nonhesitantly, adverb
unhesitant, adjective
unhesitantly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hesitant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A hesitant, pleading call followed her, but she wouldn't hear it.

    Nobody Louis Joseph Vance
  • He shuddered and turned back into the lobby, hesitant and wretched.

    The Winning Clue

    James Hay, Jr.
  • Helena stood preoccupied and hesitant, hardly hearing what he said, as I fancy.

    The Lady and the Pirate Emerson Hough
  • It was evidently with hesitant spirits that the Board finally acted.

  • But as he halted, hesitant, the sunlight fell full on his face.

British Dictionary definitions for hesitant


wavering, hesitating, or irresolute
Derived Forms
hesitance, hesitancy, noun
hesitantly, adverb
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 hesitant

1640s, probably a back-formation from hesitancy, or else from Latin haesitantem. Related: Hesitantly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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