false start


: a premature start (as of a race or football play)
: an unsuccessful attempt to begin something (such as a career)

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Example Sentences

If someone makes a false start, the race is immediately stopped and the runners have to start again. After several false starts, the researchers were finally able to identify the virus causing the epidemic.
Recent Examples on the Web The Bengals made another field goal on their next possession after a false start on third down stalled the drive. Jonathan X. Simmons, cleveland, 30 Sep. 2022 In the second quarter, Brayden Willis was flagged for a false start on fourth-and-1 as OU tried to go for it. Ryan Aber, USA TODAY, 25 Sep. 2022 Blake Fisher also was called for a false start on third-and-3. Tom Coyne, Chicago Tribune, 17 Sep. 2022 The Rams were called for a false start on that play. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, 18 Jan. 2022 In the fourth quarter, Evan Brown was flagged for a false start on second-and-7 from the Lions' 47-yard line. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, 26 Nov. 2021 The noise contributed to a false start on a brief drive that ended with a punt and a short field for the Tide offense. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, 23 Oct. 2021 On the final drive of the game, the Patriots got called for a false start on second and 1 when the entire line moved early except for the center. BostonGlobe.com, 6 Oct. 2021 Smith also commits a false start penalty and the Colts eventually punt. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 11 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'false start.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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Word History

First Known Use

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of false start was in 1815

Dictionary Entries Near false start

Cite this Entry

“False start.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/false%20start. Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

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Last Updated: 2 Oct 2022

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