[ hez-i-teyt ]
See synonyms for: hesitatehesitatedhesitatinghesitatingly 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.

  1. to pause: I hesitated before reciting the next line.

  2. to falter in speech; stammer: Embarrassment caused the speaker to hesitate.

Origin of hesitate

First recorded in 1615–25; from Latin haesitātus “faltered,” past participle of haesitāre “to falter”; see hesitant

Other words for hesitate

Opposites for hesitate

Other words from hesitate

  • hes·i·tat·er, hes·i·ta·tor, noun
  • hes·i·tat·ing·ly, adverb
  • pre·hes·i·tate, verb (used without object), pre·hes·i·tat·ed, pre·hes·i·tat·ing.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use hesitate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for hesitate


/ (ˈhɛzɪˌteɪt) /

  1. to hold back or be slow in acting; be uncertain

  2. to be unwilling or reluctant (to do something)

  1. to stammer or pause in speaking

Origin of hesitate

C17: from Latin haesitāre, from haerēre to cling to

Derived forms of hesitate

  • hesitater or hesitator, noun
  • hesitatingly, adverb
  • hesitation, noun
  • hesitative, adjective

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