Definition of hesitation in English:



mass noun
  • 1The action of pausing before saying or doing something.

    ‘she answered without hesitation’
    • ‘Fortunately, I have my writing as a refuge, and it's here that I gain my fluency - and since text is often more natural to me than talk, I insert the same hesitations that everyone else uses when they're speaking.’
    • ‘And, however accurate, such transcripts are never complete, neither indicating the tone in which answers were given, nor the speakers' hesitations, pauses or accompanying gestures.’
    • ‘Our speech is not the defined sentences of novels, but the mad collection of hesitations and uncompleted thoughts which we voice.’
    • ‘Accompanying the installation is a soundtrack of hesitations created by the artist, who has lifted them from a speech given by the father of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer.’
    • ‘There are likely to be longer pauses and more hesitations, with great care being taken over what is being said.’
    • ‘Everyday speech is replete with idiosyncrasies, hesitations and truncated sentences, and pronunciation of a syllable varies not only from individual to individual but even from instance to instance.’
    • ‘The voice on the phone from New York is tremulous, unfailingly polite, marked by hesitations and bursts of nervous laughter.’
    • ‘What is your reaction - no hesitations, no conferring, no calls to a friend - when Bill Clinton says an accusation is ‘absolutely false’?’
    • ‘After many hesitations and interruptions, Otello was finally performed at La Scala in February 1887.’
    • ‘At the end of the six-week period, students were expected to demonstrate an ability to perform all assigned pieces, including all musical elements, without stops or hesitations.’
    • ‘Apart from slight hesitations and minor delays from the cinematographer (much to everyone's amusement) they left an indelible impression.’
    • ‘I answered that my hesitations stemmed not from a love of money but from an awareness of my inadequacies.’
    • ‘There can be no flubs or hesitations as both men say many lines together, in exact unison, to an unrelenting rhythm.’
    • ‘There are several hearty laughs to be had, and the hesitations and flubbed lines of opening night will surely disappear as the run continues.’
    • ‘In spite of our training to look at body language and listen to a person's speech, we are rarely told to pay close attention to the hesitations and pauses that accompany a conversation.’
    • ‘Normal speech is a muddle, a mix of sentence fragments and hesitations, repetitions and interruptions.’
    • ‘If the shafts of energy-lines across the path of coals presented the successes, and the excitement of triumph, it was the hesitations in the semi-darkness that brought suspense.’
    • ‘He rubs his eyes and slurs his words, and his sentences are peppered with ums and ahs and hesitations.’
    • ‘What drives them to leave behind all the pleasures of a settled life and make the supreme sacrifice for the nation without even the slightest of hesitations?’
    • ‘Now there can be no more hesitations and delays.’
    pausing, delay, hanging back, waiting, shilly-shallying, dithering, stalling, temporizing, temporization
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    1. 1.1usually with negative Doubt or reluctance.
      ‘I have no hesitation in recommending him’
      • ‘Not for a moment is there any hesitation or doubt, as these obstacles have been transcended.’
      • ‘As we shall see in a moment, a similar hesitation can be discerned in Matthew and Luke.’
      • ‘Gavin took the end of the rope and, with an impressive lack of hesitation, disappeared underwater.’
      • ‘I have little hesitation in preferring the evidence of Mr Knowles and Professor Luckham on this issue.’
      • ‘The reason for the hesitation is that we are right at the scoping stage.’
      • ‘But there was no sign of the hesitation in their play or lack of creativity in attack.’
      • ‘When the clamp-down needs to be enforced the wizards of Oz do it without hesitation or mercy.’
      • ‘For it is clear they would do the same again, both in America and around the world, without compunction or hesitation.’
      • ‘I have no hesitation whatsoever in preferring Mr Bradley's evidence on these matters to Mr Doshi's.’
      • ‘With another week under his belt, he should shed some of the hesitation that dogged him in that outing.’
      • ‘Did you just wake up and roll down there and do it, or were there many moments of hesitation or doubt?’
      • ‘Given that both constructions are tenable, I have not the least hesitation in preferring the latter.’
      • ‘If a particular outfit moves you, then you put your hands together without shame or hesitation.’
      • ‘Referee Clive Owen pointed to the spot without hesitation, to the dismay of the Lismore crowd.’
      • ‘Skills they would no doubt put into practice without hesitation should any member of the public need their services.’
      • ‘Buy a Defender, we have no hesitation in recommending it to you, and the more you can spend the better your prize will be.’
      • ‘There was no hesitation or doubt for her, and therefore none for the audience.’
      • ‘I have no hesitation in recommending this book and look forward to further work from Richard Gray.’
      • ‘However, as someone who is still studying, I have no hesitation in recommending this book.’
      • ‘It comes as little surprise, then, that Ross has no hesitation in recommending that people join a club.’
      reluctance, misgivings, qualms, scruples, reservations, compunction, unwillingness, disinclination, ambivalence, unease, uneasiness, demurral
      View synonyms


Early 17th century: from Latin haesitatio(n)-, from haesitare (see hesitate).