Definition of hesitate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhezəˌtāt/


[no object]
1Pause before saying or doing something, especially through uncertainty: she hesitated, unsure of what to say
More example sentences
  • Each of these icons should open a balloon help when the user hesitates over it with the mouse.
  • Men are almost twice as likely to pause or hesitate when they speak unlike women who are more fluent speakers.
  • They discovered that men are almost twice a likely as women to pause or hesitate when talking.
pause, delay, wait, shilly-shally, dither, stall, temporize;
be of two minds, be uncertain, be unsure, be doubtful, be indecisive, hedge, equivocate, fluctuate, vacillate, waver, waffle, have second thoughts, think twice
informal dilly-dally, blow hot and cold, get cold feet, hem and haw
1.1 [with infinitive] Be reluctant to do something: he hesitated to spoil the mood by being inquisitive
More example sentences
  • Should any further questions in this regard arise, please do not hesitate to contact the writer.
  • If you would like to donate money or material please do not hesitate to contact Tommy at his home address.
  • I do hope this clarifies the point you have raised and if I can be of any further help, please do not hesitate to contact me.
be reluctant, be unwilling, be disinclined, scruple;
have misgivings about, have qualms about, shrink from, demur from, think twice about, balk at
informal miss a beat


he who hesitates is lost

proverb Delay or vacillation may have unfortunate or disastrous consequences.
Example sentences
  • Should Laois County Council be victorious in its bid to secure the international department store in Graiguecullen it would surely be a lesson to Carlow local authorities that he who hesitates is lost.
  • One of my favourite pieces was a beautiful still life by Kathleen Whelan, and whoever said ‘he who hesitates is lost’, definitely got it right.
  • I repeat silently to myself, he who hesitates is lost, then, I hang up.



Pronunciation: /-ˌtātər/
Example sentences
  • The rest of them, the doubters and hesitaters, don't matter: they're blind idiots, deaf fools.
  • Mona Johnian writes, ‘Skeptics, hesitaters and procrastinators do not get anointed.’
  • The last hesitaters preferred not to take the risk of ruining months of efforts, incidentally very productive, by opposing themselves to our legitimate claims.


Pronunciation: /ˈhezəˌtādiNGlē/
Example sentences
  • It was a year ago when he was holding our hand and walking very hesitatingly.
  • Winter is hesitatingly giving way to spring, and New Mexico's former Governor Gary Johnson is tending to a broken leg in preparation for an expedition to climb Mount Everest.
  • I stop, turn to him and very hesitatingly say hi back.


Early 17th century: from Latin haesitat- 'stuck fast, left undecided', from the verb haesitare, from haerere 'stick, stay'.

  • This comes from Latin haesitare ‘to stick fast, leave undecided’, from haerere ‘to stick, stay’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hes·i·tate

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