Can anyone tell me a single word that describes delaying a decision, although there is only one option?

  • 2
    That combines so many concepts that you're only going to find a single word for it in agglutinative languages. Sep 20, 2011 at 10:39
  • 2
    If there's only one option, I don't really think "decision" can be the action. We're probably looking at something more like acquiescence or acknowledgement. Or maybe micawberism - putting off acceptance of the poor choice on offer right now in the expectation that something better will turn up. Sep 20, 2011 at 11:09
  • 1
    ...on a Thursday?
    – JeffSahol
    Sep 20, 2011 at 12:38
  • 1
    Is it a decision if there's really just a single option? If there is no way to do anything but that option, then it's not a decision, is it? Sep 20, 2011 at 12:48
  • 1
    Dilly-dallying? Sep 20, 2011 at 14:12

8 Answers 8


If there is only one course of action, then there is not really a decision to make, so this is a case of

If there's a chance that the situation will change between now and when action can no longer be avoided, you might say

  • hedging

    protecting oneself against financial loss or other adverse circumstances

-- All definitions from Oxford Dictionaries Online

  • +1 for hedging (if there's a chance...) Sep 20, 2011 at 15:00

If you want a word with a bit of color to it, you might try filibustering or stonewalling.

Those both include the additional notion of blocking something, not just of avoiding it, which seems to be what the OP is requesting.

Other verbs besides those previously mentioned in other answers include dawdle, bide, and tarry.

However, there is no sense of inevitability here, or of something that has no other possible course of action. I’m not sure it makes sense to have a word for avoiding a “decision” with only one “option”. It doesn’t seem like much of a decision if there is no choice involved, nor can something be an option if there is but one of them.

It’s a bit like trying to avoid death or taxes: sure, you might be able to file for an extension, but these things only go so far. :)


I think to procrastinate implies laziness, avoiding a duty, and that's not really the sense I got from the question. In my mind, the best way to express the idea asked for is with the phrase 'to delay the inevitable'.

If forced to express this idea in a single word (though I don't know why that would be the case - a strict word limit?), I'd probably opt for the verb to temporize: to behave indecisively or evasively in order to to delay acting.


The word you want is stalling.


The word that immediately came to my mind was procrastination.

  • 1
    Except that that doesn't capture the decision-taking or the but-it's-not-really-a-decision aspects. Sep 20, 2011 at 10:40

Could this be a case of over-analysing (over-analyzing in Americaneze)? Or (similar) overthinking?


This sounds less like indecisiveness and more like 'fear of moving forward' so I would offer:

  • dither
  • hem and haw
  • drag your feet

A typical phrase is "You're avoiding the inevitable".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.