Share this entry
vacillate Syllabification: vac·il·late
Pronunciation: /ˈvasəˌlāt/

Definition of vacillate in English:


[no object]
Alternate or waver between different opinions or actions; be indecisive: I had for a time vacillated between teaching and journalism
More example sentences
  • Since the time of his death informed opinion has vacillated between near universal confidence in his guilt and passionate attempts to exonerate him.
  • However, years of indecisiveness have left the company vacillating between a differentiation strategy and that of being a cost leader.
  • Ask her for an opinion, and she'll give it to you without any hesitation or attempts to vacillate.
dither, waver, be indecisive, be undecided, be ambivalent, hesitate, be of two minds, blow hot and cold, keep changing one's mind, be conflicted;
fluctuate, oscillate, hem and haw
informal dilly-dally, shilly-shally


Pronunciation: /ˌvasəˈlāSH(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • The vacillation between being firm and compassionate pulls apart every policy proposal.
  • In a way, the organisers were pre-empting any possible vacillation in the minds of children and prevent them from becoming child workers.
  • But behind the scenes there has been vacillation, from politicians and civil servants alike, over costs and funding and location.
Pronunciation: /-ˌlātər/
Example sentences
  • He said the scrutiny of history was indeed a very cold, harsh and objective spotlight that in time will reveal all vacillators to be men of talk but not action.
  • He mocked his challenger as a vacillator who could spend the whole time debating himself.
  • They view him as a vacillator whose tactical shifts in the face of foreign pressure have been unpardonable.


Late 16th century (in the sense 'sway unsteadily'): from Latin vacillat- 'swayed', from the verb vacillare.

Definition of vacillate in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Related Words