Definition of hesitate in English:

hesitate

Syllabification: hes·i·tate
Pronunciation: /ˈhezəˌtāt
 
/

verb

[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.
Synonyms
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.
Synonyms
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

Origin

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

Phrases

he who hesitates is lost

proverb Delay or vacillation may have unfortunate or disastrous consequences.
More 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.

Derivatives

hesitater

Pronunciation: /-ˌtātər/
noun
More 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.

hesitatingly

Pronunciation: /-ˌtātiNGlē/
adverb
More 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.

Definition of hesitate in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day ween
Pronunciation: wiːn
verb
be of the opinion; think or suppose