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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hesitating
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The reporter stood with clenched fists and flashing eyes, hesitating.

  • "Miss Moore," he said in a hesitating manner, taking off his hat as he spoke.

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
  • Low and hesitating as it was, Hiram started violently at the sound.

  • hesitating to advance, he pointed out the place to the attention of his companion.

    The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper
  • "I think I had better not," replied Eudora, in a hesitating voice.

    The Yates Pride Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • hesitating no longer, Monny struck her hands loudly together.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • Suddenly she turned to Adam, where he stood, shaking and hesitating, in the doorway.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • It was a hesitating face, which seemed to blink doubtfully in the daylight.

    Alarms and Discursions G. K. Chesterton
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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