Definition of hesitate in English:

hesitate

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1Pause before saying or doing something, especially through uncertainty.

    ‘she hesitated, unsure of what to say’
    • ‘During its path along the template, RNA polymerase may encounter positions where it hesitates and pauses for a variable period of time.’
    • ‘Men are almost twice as likely to pause or hesitate when they speak unlike women who are more fluent speakers.’
    • ‘Mikah paused, hesitating, then lifted his head again.’
    • ‘They watched as Lauren fought on still, and Sarah hesitated, waiting for her.’
    • ‘When she hangs up, Martina hesitates for a moment before pushing the sleeves of her sweater back over her suddenly cold arms.’
    • ‘Quickly, they headed towards the train station, not pausing or hesitating in any manner; what were they to hesitate for?’
    • ‘Ely moved closer, slowly, hesitating, unsure how she might react.’
    • ‘The entire enterprise occupied about an hour of scampering, filling, waiting, rushing, hesitating, dashing, dipping, and dumping.’
    • ‘On the river bank the Rim troops were still hesitating, unsure what to do in the light of their quarry abruptly running back toward them.’
    • ‘They discovered that men are almost twice a likely as women to pause or hesitate when talking.’
    • ‘But James stood at the plate, hesitating, unsure what to do next.’
    • ‘Mankind, divided and confused, still hesitates, vacillates like a sleepwalker on the edge of an abyss.’
    • ‘Angelique paused, hesitating - she obviously, Doremi noted, did not want to let the crown out of her hands.’
    • ‘Having figured out what she was going to do, she was raising her hand when she paused, hesitating.’
    • ‘There was no reason to hesitate or delay the implementation of the election pledges.’
    • ‘Each of these icons should open a balloon help when the user hesitates over it with the mouse.’
    • ‘The road through this landscape moves with serpentine indecision: it rises, curves and double backs, hesitates, sinks, then curves back on itself once more.’
    • ‘On a toss to the right side, Thurman beat Parker to the corner but stopped his feet, hesitating and waiting for Parker to make a move.’
    • ‘Before he could move up all the way to the top of the staircase, he paused, hesitating as he noticed no follower lemming behind him, glancing over the opened railing towards her.’
    • ‘It slowly circled around me, not hesitating, simply waiting for the opportunity to present itself.’
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with infinitive Be reluctant to do something.
      ‘he hesitated to spoil the mood by being inquisitive’
      • ‘Because some childhood seizures stop at puberty, doctors often hesitate to recommend surgery for children.’
      • ‘They wouldn't have hesitated to kill him quickly and be done with it.’
      • ‘We hesitate to act because we're frightened by his threats.’
      • ‘Why was this man hesitating to kill her?’
      • ‘All of the swimmers will be sponsored and if you are asked to chip a few euro into the kitty then please don't hesitate to do so.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Please do not hesitate to let me know if any of my content or behavior makes you think I do not respect other people on the net.’
      • ‘Would they have hesitated to use nuclear weapons if they had access to them?’
      • ‘Why then do I hesitate to recommend it?’
      • ‘I realize it may be a delicate subject but I hesitate to ask.’
      • ‘So long as we're here they may hesitate to act, thinking that we might get hurt.’
      • ‘Should any further questions in this regard arise, please do not hesitate to contact the writer.’
      • ‘I hesitate even to call it a review - hatchet job is more like it.’
      • ‘Chris hesitated to ask because of the fear she might say no.’
      • ‘I hesitate to recommend any video editing software that is freeware.’
      • ‘If you have any further questions about the code of practice, please don't hesitate to ask.’
      • ‘She never hesitates to call on God or to encourage her colleagues and families to do the same.’
      • ‘Peter never hesitated to provide a phone number or contact to assist faculty.’
      • ‘The clients I spoke with don't hesitate to make eye contact and pipe up with an opinion.’
      be reluctant, be unwilling, be disinclined, scruple
      View synonyms

Phrases

  • he who hesitates is lost

    • proverb Delay or vacillation may have unfortunate or disastrous consequences.

      • ‘On the Internet Napster and MP3.com have so eloquently proven that he who hesitates is lost even in face of substantive adverse legal findings.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As Simon noted, of course ‘you should look before you leap,’ but it is also true that ‘he who hesitates is lost.’’

Origin

Early 17th century: from Latin haesitat- ‘stuck fast, left undecided’, from the verb haesitare, from haerere ‘stick, stay’.

Pronunciation

hesitate

/ˈhɛzəˌteɪt//ˈhezəˌtāt/