false start


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

Examples of false start in a Sentence

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 Rutgers was called for a false start on fourth and 1, leaving the Knights with a 51-yard field-goal attempt that Jai Patel missed when the score was tied early in the second quarter. Chantz Martin, Fox News, 23 Sep. 2023 Despite committing a false start penalty, which pushed the Vikings back passed midfield, that would ultimately be no problem for La Jolla junior running back Aidan Megill, who ran up the field for a 57-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven apiece. Breven Honda, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Sep. 2023 With Florida opening the quarter inside the red zone, a delay of game and a false start stalled the drive. Kevin Reynolds, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Aug. 2023 Earlier this fall, the IPO market experienced a false start when three companies—Arm Holdings, Instacart and Klaviyo—went public. Joseph Abrams, Fortune, 2 Nov. 2023 First, Shannon and Rubicam had a false start with a song that Davis and Arista rejected – and that the duo ended up keeping for themselves. Kyle Denis, Billboard, 19 Oct. 2023 What was the offensive tackle doing, committing a false start coming out of a timeout? Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2023 That last comment was a reference to the false start called on SDSU offensive lineman Drew Azzopardi. Kirk Kenney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Oct. 2023 The Hogs were flagged for a false start and had to settle for Cam Little's 23-yard field goal to move ahead 3-0. Tom Murphy, Arkansas Online, 24 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'false start.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 28 Nov. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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