Definition of hesitation in English:


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  • The action of pausing or hesitating before saying or doing something.

    ‘she answered without hesitation’
    • ‘There are likely to be longer pauses and more hesitations, with great care being taken over what is being said.’
    • ‘And, however accurate, such transcripts are never complete, neither indicating the tone in which answers were given, nor the speakers' hesitations, pauses or accompanying gestures.’
    • ‘In spite of our training to look at body language and listen to a person's speech, we are rarely told to pay close attention to the hesitations and pauses that accompany a conversation.’
    • ‘I answered that my hesitations stemmed not from a love of money but from an awareness of my inadequacies.’
    • ‘Normal speech is a muddle, a mix of sentence fragments and hesitations, repetitions and interruptions.’
    • ‘At the end of the six-week period, students were expected to demonstrate an ability to perform all assigned pieces, including all musical elements, without stops or hesitations.’
    • ‘Apart from slight hesitations and minor delays from the cinematographer (much to everyone's amusement) they left an indelible impression.’
    • ‘Now there can be no more hesitations and delays.’
    • ‘After many hesitations and interruptions, Otello was finally performed at La Scala in February 1887.’
    • ‘Everyday speech is replete with idiosyncrasies, hesitations and truncated sentences, and pronunciation of a syllable varies not only from individual to individual but even from instance to instance.’
    • ‘Fortunately, I have my writing as a refuge, and it's here that I gain my fluency - and since text is often more natural to me than talk, I insert the same hesitations that everyone else uses when they're speaking.’
    • ‘What is your reaction - no hesitations, no conferring, no calls to a friend - when Bill Clinton says an accusation is ‘absolutely false’?’
    • ‘Accompanying the installation is a soundtrack of hesitations created by the artist, who has lifted them from a speech given by the father of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer.’
    • ‘What drives them to leave behind all the pleasures of a settled life and make the supreme sacrifice for the nation without even the slightest of hesitations?’
    • ‘There are several hearty laughs to be had, and the hesitations and flubbed lines of opening night will surely disappear as the run continues.’
    • ‘The voice on the phone from New York is tremulous, unfailingly polite, marked by hesitations and bursts of nervous laughter.’
    • ‘Our speech is not the defined sentences of novels, but the mad collection of hesitations and uncompleted thoughts which we voice.’
    • ‘There can be no flubs or hesitations as both men say many lines together, in exact unison, to an unrelenting rhythm.’
    • ‘He rubs his eyes and slurs his words, and his sentences are peppered with ums and ahs and hesitations.’
    • ‘If the shafts of energy-lines across the path of coals presented the successes, and the excitement of triumph, it was the hesitations in the semi-darkness that brought suspense.’
    pausing, delay, hanging back, waiting, shilly-shallying, dithering, stalling, temporizing, temporization
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/ˌhezəˈtāSHən/ /ˌhɛzəˈteɪʃən/


Early 17th century from Latin haesitatio(n)-, from haesitare (see hesitate).