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[hez-i-teyt] /ˈhɛz ɪˌteɪt/
verb (used without object), hesitated, hesitating.
to be reluctant or wait to act because of fear, indecision, or disinclination:
She hesitated to take the job.
to have scruples or doubts; be unwilling:
He hesitated to break the law.
to pause:
I hesitated before reciting the next line.
to falter in speech; stammer:
Embarrassment caused the speaker to hesitate.
1615-25; < Latin haesitātus, past participle of haesitāre. See hesitant, -ate1
Related forms
hesitater, hesitator, noun
hesitatingly, adverb
prehesitate, verb (used without object), prehesitated, prehesitating.
1. waver, vacillate, falter. 3. demur, delay.
1. decide. 3. hasten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for hesitated
  • But the government has hesitated to extend the pain to senior bondholders.
  • He hesitated a moment to read the directions and then turned the extinguisher upside down.
  • And where it lacks genuine capabilities, it has not hesitated to fake them.
  • He hesitated some more until finally somehow the circle spit us out.
  • If they had, chances are they would have hesitated before approaching her.
  • She hesitated for a millisecond, then kept on coming.
  • Its authors hesitated to publish it for fear of encouraging suicides.
  • After he had me immobilized, only my feet kicking out wildly, he hesitated for an instant.
  • When offering the usual toast to the president, the master of ceremonies hesitated.
  • It hesitated too much when accelerating from a stop, for one thing.
British Dictionary definitions for hesitated


verb (intransitive)
to hold back or be slow in acting; be uncertain
to be unwilling or reluctant (to do something)
to stammer or pause in speaking
Derived Forms
hesitater, hesitator, noun
hesitatingly, adverb
hesitation, noun
hesitative, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin haesitāre, from haerēre to cling to
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hesitated



1620s, from Latin haesitatum, past participle of haesitare (see hesitation). Related: Hesitated; hesitating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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