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[hez-i-teyt] /ˈhɛz ɪˌteɪt/
verb (used without object), hesitated, hesitating.
to be reluctant or wait to act because of fear, indecision, or disinclination:
She hesitated to take the job.
to have scruples or doubts; be unwilling:
He hesitated to break the law.
to pause:
I hesitated before reciting the next line.
to falter in speech; stammer:
Embarrassment caused the speaker to hesitate.
Origin of hesitate
1615-25; < Latin haesitātus, past participle of haesitāre. See hesitant, -ate1
Related forms
hesitater, hesitator, noun
hesitatingly, adverb
prehesitate, verb (used without object), prehesitated, prehesitating.
1. waver, vacillate, falter. 3. demur, delay.
1. decide. 3. hasten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for hesitating
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mrs. Panfillen went towards her with slow, hesitating steps.

    Studies in Wives Marie Belloc Lowndes
  • I saw that he was hesitating, for I knew that he really liked me.

    Princess Zara Ross Beeckman
  • Well,” said Prigg, hesitating, “I may even go so far as to say that.

  • "I fear it will look very strange," replied Maurice, hesitating.

    Fairy Fingers Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
  • Apparently he wanted to say something to him, but was hesitating.

    The Possessed Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • "I don't understand how you happened to be on that schooner—as—as you were," she said, hesitating.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • Thus the novel fires many a sanctimoniousness, makes lurid many a hesitating life.

    A Novelist on Novels W. L. George
  • But while the other Colonies were hesitating, a voice was heard in Virginia.

    Stories Of Georgia Joel Chandler Harris
British Dictionary definitions for hesitating


verb (intransitive)
to hold back or be slow in acting; be uncertain
to be unwilling or reluctant (to do something)
to stammer or pause in speaking
Derived Forms
hesitater, hesitator, noun
hesitatingly, adverb
hesitation, noun
hesitative, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin haesitāre, from haerēre to cling to
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 hesitating



1620s, from Latin haesitatum, past participle of haesitare (see hesitation). Related: Hesitated; hesitating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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