Definition of vacillate in English:



[no object]
  • Waver between different opinions or actions; be indecisive.

    ‘I vacillated between teaching and journalism’
    • ‘He vacillates between childlike bemusement and childlike trepidation.’
    • ‘Ask her for an opinion, and she'll give it to you without any hesitation or attempts to vacillate.’
    • ‘That's partly because the party's candidates have come across as vacillating on military issues and lenient on social concerns like crime and federal ‘giveaways’ to the poor.’
    • ‘The president vacillates between the two (hard-line and moderate) camps.’
    • ‘My children bring me great joy (especially as the little ones vacillate between squirming with curiosity and tittering with barely kept secrets in anticipation of Christmas).’
    • ‘He vacillated when he was asked the direct question at an Irish press conference about the Sunderland job and immediately established in some people's minds the belief that he was actively looking for another job.’
    • ‘He has vacillated between contradictory approaches to leadership: realism and idealism.’
    • ‘In his later comments on the Marx Brothers, he vacillated between generosity and steely contempt.’
    • ‘The first week or two I vacillated, like most people, between sadness and anger.’
    • ‘I don't know, I keep vacillating on whether I should practice so I could make a point in a very humorous way, or whether I should just stay off it.’
    • ‘Well, I usually, keep on vacillating between being a hardcore realist and a hopeless romantic.’
    • ‘The government should give leadership, and not procrastinate and vacillate, he said, although he recognised it could take 20 years.’
    • ‘Since the time of his death informed opinion has vacillated between near universal confidence in his guilt and passionate attempts to exonerate him.’
    • ‘Certainly, public opinion of the royals has vacillated so much over the past couple of decades that anything is possible.’
    • ‘My listening tastes vacillate between music and talk radio.’
    • ‘Stay firm with decisions at work and don't keep vacillating.’
    • ‘Its programming vacillates between easily recognized art house fare and mainstream movies, giving the impression that it doesn't really know what it wants to be.’
    • ‘However, years of indecisiveness have left the company vacillating between a differentiation strategy and that of being a cost leader.’
    • ‘It's difficult to say, but indeed I am vacillating between the two.’
    • ‘‘The nation's top law enforcer cannot be someone who vacillates between civil rights and Civil War fantasies,’ Jackson wrote.’
    dither, be indecisive, be irresolute, be undecided, be uncertain, be unsure, be doubtful, waver, teeter, temporize, hesitate, oscillate, fluctuate, keep changing one's mind
    irresolute, hesitant, tentative, dithering, wavering, teetering, fluctuating, ambivalent, divided, doubtful, unsure, uncertain, in two minds, undecided, indefinite, unresolved, undetermined
    View synonyms


Late 16th century (in the sense ‘sway unsteadily’): from Latin vacillat- ‘swayed’, from the verb vacillare.