AskDefine | Define hesitate

Dictionary Definition



1 pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness; "Authorities hesitate to quote exact figures" [syn: waver, waffle]
2 interrupt temporarily an activity before continuing; "The speaker paused" [syn: pause]

User Contributed Dictionary



From haesitatus, p.p. of haesitare, intens. fr. haerere to hesitate, stick fast; to hang or hold fast. Cf. aghast, gaze, adhere.


  • /ˈhɛzɪteɪt/


  1. To stop or pause respecting decision or action; to be in suspense or uncertainty as to a determination.
    • Alexander Pope,
      He hesitated whether to accept the offer or not; men often hesitate in forming a judgment.
  2. To stammer; to falter in speaking.
  3. To utter with hesitation or to intimate by a reluctant manner. [Poetic & R.]

Usage notes

Derived terms


To stop or pause respecting decision or action
To stammer; to falter in speaking

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

alternate, back down, balance, balk, be dilatory, blench, boggle, call a recess, debate, delay, deliberate, demur, dither, equivocate, falter, fear, fight shy of, filibuster, flinch, fluctuate, fumble, gain time, halt, hang, hang back, hang fire, hang in doubt, hang off, have qualms, haver, haw, hem, hem and haw, hold back, hold off, hover, hum, hum and haw, jib, let up, make bones about, make time, mammer, pause, play for time, ponder, procrastinate, pull back, quail, recess, recoil, rest, retreat, scruple, shilly-shally, shrink, shrink from, shy, shy at, splutter, sputter, stall, stall for time, stall off, stammer, stick at, stickle, stooge around, stop to consider, straddle the fence, strain, strain at, stumble, stutter, take a recess, talk against time, temporize, tergiversate, think twice, think twice about, vacillate, wait, waver, wince, withdraw, yield
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1