October 05, 2013
vacillate (verb)
\VASS-uh-layt\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to hesitate between courses or opinions : be unable to choose
How do you use it?
When Emily discovered that her soccer and softball schedules conflicted, she vacillated for several days before choosing which sport she would play.
Are you a word wiz?

Our writers didn't hesitate in coming up with these sentences, but only one uses "vacillate" correctly. Which one do you think it is?

If you quickly made up your mind that A was the right answer, good thinking! Sentence B uses "vacillate" as a noun, and since we know it's a verb, you can toss that option out. Any number of words could be plugged into C to replace "vacillate," whose meaning just doesn't agree with its use in the sentence. Some possibilities would be "talk," "speak," "chat," and "help." Since you can't "vacillate" an engine (or anything else, for that matter), D is out of the running too. Those indecisive voters in A, though, illustrate the meaning of "vacillate" perfectly, making sentence A the right choice.
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