See more synonyms for hesitate on Thesaurus.com
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 hesitated

Contemporary Examples of hesitated

Historical Examples of hesitated

  • A bat circled near, indecisively, as if with a message it hesitated to give.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I hesitated and tried to think of some safe way out of the dilemma.

    Biography of a Slave

    Charles Thompson

  • But therewith her own mind was made up: if he but hesitated, that would be enough!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • For an instant, he hesitated while the others regarded him doubtfully.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • He hesitated a little, then went on, with a certain curious embarrassment.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for hesitated


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 hesitated



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper