hesitance, hesitancy, hesitation
All three words are first recorded in English in the early 17c, and the story since then has been one of advancement for hesitation and of sharp retreat for the other two, especially for hesitance although this occurs occasionally. There is a residual distinction between hesitancy and hesitation; the first denotes a tendency, whereas the second denotes a fact or action (and occurs in the plural): (hesitancy, hesitance)

• He understood the hesitancy of many landlords to rent to male rather than female students —Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.), 1973

• An examination of the client's hesitance, however, indicates that he is not at all sure about the terminology and that he may simply be echoing the wording of the charge —J. Citron, 1989

• He was reluctant to begin and his hesitancy made her look questioningly at him —T. Hayden, 1991

• (hesitation) He had driven the Deputy Director…half mad with his hesitation, his recycled arguments for accepting and not accepting —D. Bloodworth, 1978

• Women have trouble communicating in a ‘male’ language and the result is hesitations, false starts, and so on —D. Cameron, 1992.

Hesitation but not hesitancy is used in the idiomatic phrases not have a moment's hesitation and without hesitation:

• When Granpa asked me what I wanted for my fifteenth birthday I replied without a moment's hesitation, ‘My own barrow.’ —Jeffrey Archer, 1991

• When in 1974 I was flattered by an invitation to make a T V appearance as the Dimbleby lecturer, I accepted without hesitation —A. Goodman, 1993

• He answered clearly and without hesitation —business website, 2004 [OEC].

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Hésitation — (roman) Hésitation Auteur Stephenie Meyer Genre Version originale Titre original Eclipse Éditeur original Little, Brown Co. Langue originale Anglais …   Wikipédia en Français

  • hesitation — hesitation, hesitancy are often used interchangeably as meaning a hesitating. But hesitation more often applies to the act or fact or to a sign of hesitating {without hesitation Flora seized her father round the body and pulled back Conrad} {the… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • hesitation — c.1400, from O.Fr. hesitacion or directly from L. haesitationem (nom. haesitatio) a hesitation, stammering, figuratively irresolution, uncertainty, from haesitare stick fast, remain fixed; stammer in speech, figuratively hesitate, be irresolute,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Hesitation — Hes i*ta tion, n. [L. haesitatio: cf. F. h[ e]sitation.] 1. The act of hesitating; suspension of opinion or action; doubt; vacillation. [1913 Webster] 2. A faltering in speech; stammering. Swift. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hesitation — I noun caution, cunctatio, delay, diffidence, doubt, dubiety, dubitatio, dubitation, equivocation, faltering, fluctuation, haesitatio, hesitancy, holding back, incertitude, indecision, irresolution, nervousness, oscillation, overcaution, qualm,… …   Law dictionary

  • hesitation — [n] waiting; uncertainty averseness, dawdling, delay, delaying, demurral, doubt, dubiety, equivocation, faltering, fluctuation, fumbling, hemming and hawing*, hesitancy, indecision, indecisiveness, indisposition, irresolution, misgiving, mistrust …   New thesaurus

  • hesitation — [hez΄i tā′shən] n. [L haesitatio] a hesitating or feeling hesitant; specif., a) uncertainty; indecision b) reluctance c) the act of groping for words; halting speech d) a pausing or delaying hesitative adj. hesitatively adv …   English World dictionary

  • hesitation — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ brief, momentary, slight ▪ There was a momentary hesitation before he replied. ▪ considerable ▪ little ▪ …   Collocations dictionary

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