Definition of hesitation in English:



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

    ‘she answered without hesitation’
    • ‘There are several hearty laughs to be had, and the hesitations and flubbed lines of opening night will surely disappear as the run continues.’
    • ‘Our speech is not the defined sentences of novels, but the mad collection of hesitations and uncompleted thoughts which we voice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Apart from slight hesitations and minor delays from the cinematographer (much to everyone's amusement) they left an indelible impression.’
    • ‘There can be no flubs or hesitations as both men say many lines together, in exact unison, to an unrelenting rhythm.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Normal speech is a muddle, a mix of sentence fragments and hesitations, repetitions and interruptions.’
    • ‘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’?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There are likely to be longer pauses and more hesitations, with great care being taken over what is being said.’
    • ‘After many hesitations and interruptions, Otello was finally performed at La Scala in February 1887.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I answered that my hesitations stemmed not from a love of money but from an awareness of my inadequacies.’
    • ‘He rubs his eyes and slurs his words, and his sentences are peppered with ums and ahs and hesitations.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘Did you just wake up and roll down there and do it, or were there many moments of hesitation or doubt?’
      • ‘But there was no sign of the hesitation in their play or lack of creativity in attack.’
      • ‘Referee Clive Owen pointed to the spot without hesitation, to the dismay of the Lismore crowd.’
      • ‘Given that both constructions are tenable, I have not the least hesitation in preferring the latter.’
      • ‘With another week under his belt, he should shed some of the hesitation that dogged him in that outing.’
      • ‘When the clamp-down needs to be enforced the wizards of Oz do it without hesitation or mercy.’
      • ‘There was no hesitation or doubt for her, and therefore none for the audience.’
      • ‘It comes as little surprise, then, that Ross has no hesitation in recommending that people join a club.’
      • ‘I have no hesitation in recommending this book and look forward to further work from Richard Gray.’
      • ‘For it is clear they would do the same again, both in America and around the world, without compunction or hesitation.’
      • ‘Not for a moment is there any hesitation or doubt, as these obstacles have been transcended.’
      • ‘The reason for the hesitation is that we are right at the scoping stage.’
      • ‘Skills they would no doubt put into practice without hesitation should any member of the public need their services.’
      • ‘If a particular outfit moves you, then you put your hands together without shame or hesitation.’
      • ‘Gavin took the end of the rope and, with an impressive lack of hesitation, disappeared underwater.’
      • ‘I have no hesitation whatsoever in preferring Mr Bradley's evidence on these matters to Mr Doshi's.’
      • ‘However, as someone who is still studying, I have no hesitation in recommending this book.’
      • ‘I have little hesitation in preferring the evidence of Mr Knowles and Professor Luckham on this issue.’
      • ‘As we shall see in a moment, a similar hesitation can be discerned in Matthew and Luke.’
      • ‘Buy a Defender, we have no hesitation in recommending it to you, and the more you can spend the better your prize will be.’
      reluctance, misgivings, qualms, scruples, reservations, compunction, unwillingness, disinclination, ambivalence, unease, uneasiness, demurral
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Early 17th century: from Latin haesitatio(n)-, from haesitare (see hesitate).