9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[vas-uh-leyt] /ˈvæs əˌleɪt/
verb (used without object), vacillated, vacillating.
to waver in mind or opinion; be indecisive or irresolute:
His tendency to vacillate makes him a poor leader.
to sway unsteadily; waver; totter; stagger.
to oscillate or fluctuate.
Origin of vacillate
1590-1600; < Latin vacillātus (past participle of vacillāre to sway to and fro); see -ate1
Related forms
vacillator, noun
1. hesitate. See waver1 . 2. reel. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for vacillate
  • Those who vacillate or sulk, will miss a window of opportunity.
  • He may vacillate awhile longer, perhaps even ultimately settling on a third troop, but he has begun his transfer into adulthood.
  • Indeed, you yourself appear to vacillate between two positions here.
  • Many have left large families behind and some vacillate painfully between staying here permanently or returning.
  • He seems to vacillate between regret and arrogance about the position he is in.
  • When dealing with professionals, many people vacillate between servility and resentment.
  • They vacillate between criticism of others and harsh self-criticism.
  • One third vacillate between adoption as goal, versus another plan for permanent living.
British Dictionary definitions for vacillate


verb (intransitive)
to fluctuate in one's opinions; be indecisive
to sway from side to side physically; totter or waver
Derived Forms
vacillation, noun
vacillator, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin vacillāre to sway, of obscure origin
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 vacillate

1590s, "to sway unsteadily," from Latin vacillatum, from vacillare (see vacillation). Meaning "to waver between two opinions or courses" is recorded from 1620s. Related: Vacillated; vacillates; vacillating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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