Found some explanation online but it's not too clear




Need to think / can't decide on plan / indecisive or unsure


The three terms seem similar, they are mostly different in etymology and minor details in usage.

迟= late, slow to; 疑= suspect, uncertain

迟疑 to hesitate

Hesitate to act because one feels uncertain of the consequence

  • Mainly used to describe hesitancy in 'action'. It can be for a brief moment. For example: 动作迟疑 (hesitant movement); or it can be delay of action for indefinite time period. For example: 迟疑不发 (hesitating, holding off action)


犹= as if; 豫= happy and content

犹豫 to hesitate

Hesitate to act (as if content of the the current situation)

  • Mainly used to describe hesitancy in a 'mindset' For example: 心里犹豫 (cannot decide); 猶豫不決 (hesitant; indecisive)

  • It can also describe an 'appearance' of hesitancy. For example: 一脸猶豫 (hesitant look);


踌= (1) hesitant; shilly-shally (2) complacent; self-satisfied

躇= hesitant; undecided

踌躇 hesitant; wavering; undecided

Hesitate to act (out of uncertain feeling or complacency, afraid of the action might bring change to the current situation)

  • Mainly used to describe hesitancy in a 'mindset'. For example: 心里躊躇 (wavering heart);

  • 躊躇滿志 【釋義】:躊躇:從容自得的樣子;滿:滿足;志:志願。形容對自己取得的成就非常得意。

(躊躇: leisurely, contented; 滿: Satisfied ;志; goal. 躊躇滿志 describes the proud feeling of one's achievements)



 迟疑:从时间角度说,是指在应该拿定主意的时候拿不定主意。 It focus more on time.

 踌躇:着重指行动,是在具体行动上拿不定主意。多用于书面语体。 It's more formal.

 犹豫:泛指拿不定主意,多指内心活动,也指行动,书面语体和口头语体都常用。 You can use this any where.

  • coincides with comment #1, first online link bottom 3 lines (with addition of some E translation)
    – user6065
    Aug 3 '17 at 22:46
  • Yes I copied the content here. Also added comments
    – An Chin
    Aug 4 '17 at 0:39

迟疑 you got one option or idea,but you are not sure about it,so you can not decide it very quick. 犹豫 you got several options or ideas,but you dont know which one is the best or the right,so you think and think and again,still can not make decision. 踌躇 has the same meaning with 犹豫,but more formal

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