Meaning of “hesitate” in the English Dictionary

"hesitate" in British English

See all translations

hesitateverb [ I ]

uk /ˈhez.ɪ.teɪt/ us /ˈhez.ə.teɪt/

B2 to pause before you do or say something, often because you are uncertain or nervous about it:

She hesitated slightly before answering the detective's question.
"Do you love me?" she asked. He hesitated and then said, "I'm not sure."
[ + to infinitive ] If you need anything, don't hesitate to call me.

More examples

  • Should you ever need anything, please don't hesitate to contact me.
  • He hesitated before ringing her, fearful of what she might say.
  • He hesitated before opening the door and walking into the room.
  • She hesitated in the middle of the sentence.
  • He sounded nervous, and kept hesitating as he spoke.

(Definition of “hesitate” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"hesitate" in American English

See all translations

hesitateverb [ I ]

us /ˈhez·ɪˌteɪt/

to pause before you do or say something, often because you are uncertain or nervous about it:

[ + to infinitive ] If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me.
hesitant
adjective us /ˈhez·ɪ·tənt/

[ + to infinitive ] The bank manager is hesitant to approve the loan.
hesitation
noun [ U ] us /ˌhez·ɪˈteɪ·ʃən/

There was some hesitation about inviting him.

(Definition of “hesitate” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)