verb (used without object), hes·i·tat·ed, hes·i·tat·ing.

to be reluctant or wait to act because of fear, indecision, or disinclination: She hesitated to take the job.
to have scruples or doubts; be unwilling: He hesitated to break the law.
to pause: I hesitated before reciting the next line.
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

Antonyms for hesitate

1. decide. 3. hasten.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for hesitating

delaying, wavering, dawdling, irresolute, skeptical, uncertain, unsure

Examples from the Web for hesitating

Contemporary Examples of hesitating

Historical Examples of hesitating

  • The reporter stood with clenched fists and flashing eyes, hesitating.

  • "Miss Moore," he said in a hesitating manner, taking off his hat as he spoke.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Low and hesitating as it was, Hiram started violently at the sound.

  • "I think I had better not," replied Eudora, in a hesitating voice.

    The Yates Pride

    Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

  • Hesitating to advance, he pointed out the place to the attention of his companion.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for hesitating


verb (intr)

to hold back or be slow in acting; be uncertain
to be unwilling or reluctant (to do something)
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 hesitating



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper