[hez-i-tuh nt]
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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. 2018

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


  1. 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