hesitate

[hez-i-teyt]
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verb (used without object), hes·i·tat·ed, hes·i·tat·ing.
  1. to be reluctant or wait to act because of fear, indecision, or disinclination: She hesitated to take the job.
  2. to have scruples or doubts; be unwilling: He hesitated to break the law.
  3. to pause: I hesitated before reciting the next line.
  4. 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 formshes·i·tat·er, hes·i·ta·tor, nounhes·i·tat·ing·ly, adverbpre·hes·i·tate, verb (used without object), pre·hes·i·tat·ed, pre·hes·i·tat·ing.

Synonyms for hesitate

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Antonyms for hesitate

1. decide. 3. hasten.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


Examples from the Web for hesitate

Contemporary Examples of hesitate

Historical Examples of hesitate

  • Percival, with his new air of Wall Street operator, was inclined to hesitate.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • She thought the people of the towns might hesitate to admit so many men strangers.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • Mr Verloc, thinking of Mr Vladimir, did not hesitate in the choice of words.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • Shall we hesitate to devote to him whatever he claims, or whatever we can bestow?

  • But Gawtrey had been so earnest on the subject, that he felt as if he had no right to hesitate.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton


British Dictionary definitions for hesitate

hesitate

verb (intr)
  1. to hold back or be slow in acting; be uncertain
  2. to be unwilling or reluctant (to do something)
  3. to stammer or pause in speaking
Derived Formshesitater or hesitator, nounhesitatingly, adverbhesitation, nounhesitative, adjective

Word Origin for hesitate

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

Word Origin and History for hesitate
v.

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper