Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To be slow to act, speak, or decide.
  • intransitive v. To pause in uncertainty; waver.
  • intransitive v. To be reluctant.
  • intransitive v. To speak haltingly; falter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To stop or pause respecting decision or action; to be in suspense or uncertainty as to a determination.
  • v. To stammer; to falter in speaking.
  • v. To utter with hesitation or to intimate by a reluctant manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To stop or pause respecting decision or action; to be in suspense or uncertainty as to a determination
  • intransitive v. To stammer; to falter in speaking.
  • transitive v. To utter with hesitation or to intimate by a reluctant manner.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To hold back in doubt or indecision; refrain or delay by reason of uncertainty or difficulty of decision or choice: as, he hesitated to believe the report; they hesitate about taking so dangerous a step.
  • To halt or falter in speech, through indecision or embarrassment; make irregular involuntary pauses; stammer.
  • Synonyms Waver, etc. (see scruple); delay, vacillate, deliberate, doubt, be undetermined, demur.
  • See stammner.
  • To utter or express with hesitation or reluctantly; insinuate dubiously.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. interrupt temporarily an activity before continuing
  • v. pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness

Etymologies

Latin haesitāre, haesitāt-, to hesitate, frequentative of haerēre, to hold fast.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin haesitatus, past participle of haesitare, intensive of haerere ("to hesitate, stick fast; to hang or hold fast"). Compare aghast, gaze, adhere. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • COMEY: Well, the only reason I hesitate is that I'm no presidential scholar.

    Balkinization

  • COMEY: The only reason I hesitate is it was never Director

    Balkinization

  • COMEY: The only reason I hesitate is it was never Director Mueller's job or position to be drawing a legal conclusion about the program; that he was very supportive to me personally.

    Balkinization

  • COMEY: The reason I hesitate is I don't know that the Department of Justice's certification was required by statute -- in fact, it was not, as far as I know -- or by regulation, but that it was the practice in this particular program, when it was renewed, that the attorney general sign off as to its legality.

    Balkinization

  • With the man who is less normal and has less forethought, the notion dwells, resists the weak repulsion of a not too vigorous moral sense, and finally prevails; for, as Victor Hugo says, "Face to face with duty, to hesitate is to be lost."

    Criminal Sociology

  • He has a suggestion to make in every emergency, a line of conduct for each of his company, all marked out or supplied on the spur of the moment by his own quick sense of appropriate action; and for him, as for no one else, to hesitate is to be lost.

    The Story of the Mind

  • Just the other day, he was joking with a crowd in Ohio about having been arrested for entering the dorm room of two female coeds, which I kind of hesitate to think what would happen if John McCain or Barack Obama, for that matter ...

    CNN Transcript Oct 22, 2008

  • I mean, I have already experienced it once and I know there ` s a lot of people that kind of hesitate to think about going back a second time.

    CNN Transcript Dec 25, 2008

  • I mean, I ` ve already experienced it once, and I know there ` s a lot of people that kind of hesitate to think about going back a second time.

    CNN Transcript Oct 30, 2006

  • I think it's really hard to - when something does so well, something so good you really kind of hesitate because sometimes when something is really great it's really if you go do the sequel it almost cheapens the first part if the other one is not as good.

    CNN Transcript Sep 30, 2005

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