[hez-i-tuh nt]


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 formshes·i·tant·ly, adverbnon·hes·i·tant, adjectivenon·hes·i·tant·ly, adverbun·hes·i·tant, adjectiveun·hes·i·tant·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hesitant

Contemporary Examples of hesitant

Historical Examples of hesitant

  • A hesitant, pleading call followed her, but she wouldn't hear it.


    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.

  • 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 Formshesitance or hesitancy, nounhesitantly, 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

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