Definition of hesitate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhɛzɪteɪt/


[no object]
1Pause in indecision before saying or doing something: she hesitated, unsure of what to say one hesitates over publicizing these things
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, hang back, wait, shilly-shally, dither, stall, temporize, be in two minds, be in a quandary, be in a dilemma, be on the horns of a dilemma;
be uncertain, be hesitant, be unsure, be doubtful, be indecisive, equivocate, vacillate, oscillate, waver, have second thoughts;
British  haver, hum and haw;
Scottish  swither
informal dilly-dally, blow hot and cold
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, be ambivalent about, feel uneasy about, shrink from, demur from, hang back from, think twice about, be diffident about, baulk at, boggle at


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.



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.


Example sentences
  • His steps were slow and hesitating and reluctant as he continued on to the tower staircase.
  • First the handful in a city centre, then the hesitating masses.
  • While tiny glitches get stuck under the hesitating melody, intermittent percussive elements add to the overall textural.


Pronunciation: /ˈhɛzɪteɪtɪŋli/
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.


Example sentences
  • The Bulgarians' hesitative play and the strong Russian blocks quickly led to a 13-25 loss in the opening game.
  • When Sri Rama went to meet Kaikayee, she was very hesitative to meet him, being ashamed of her deeds.
  • His dainty hesitative accents had a nice elegance, but elegance is not what this concerto is about.


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

Line breaks: hesi|tate

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