false start


Definition of false start

1 : a premature start (as of a race or football play)
2 : 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

There’s an argument to be made that Microsoft was overdue for a period of bug fixing and polishing after the fiasco known as the October 2018 Update, which suffered a false start and hasty pullback after reports of data deletion, later confirmed. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Windows 10's April 2019 Update should be as straightforward as its name," 25 Jan. 2019 Ifedi, who was flagged an NFL-high 20 times last season, had been benched during Saturday’s mock game after committing two penaties on one series, a false start and a hold. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Analysis: Big opportunities for young Seahawks Tedric Thompson, Tre Flowers and Jamarco Jones," 7 Aug. 2018 On the first down before Fluker’s penalty, Ifedi was called for a false start after Russell Wilson had hit Tyler Lockett for 44 yards to the Rams’ 32-yard line. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Six takeaways from Pete Carroll’s radio show: On the time outs called and not called, the penalties, Russell Wilson’s running and more," 8 Oct. 2018 After a few false starts at regulation, the city eventually capped the number of cabs, creating the modern-day taxi-medallion system. Jessica Pressler, Daily Intelligencer, "The Tragic End to a Longtime Black-Car Driver’s Campaign Against Uber," 15 May 2018 Mars, the planet of action and determination, has been spinning backward since June 26, causing major professional slow-downs and maddening false starts. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What August's Pisces Horoscope Means for You," 30 July 2018 The offensive line was flagged a few times for false starts. Jeff Mclane, Philly.com, "Eagles practice observations: Jalen Mills locks down; Nelson Agholor explodes; Dallas Goedert catches on," 13 June 2018 Harrison and Cartwright chronicle in detail their escape schemes, preparations, false starts and runs to the Dutch border. Neal Bascomb, WSJ, "Five Best: Neal Bascomb," 18 Oct. 2018 The initiative, scheduled to be launched Thursday, is the result of months of quiet conversations and planning full of false starts and uncertainty about whether to go forward. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Midterms will mold Dems' 2020 field," 19 July 2018

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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First Known Use of false start

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for false start

Last Updated

12 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for false start

The first known use of false start was in 1815

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More Definitions for false start

false start


English Language Learners Definition of false start

: the mistake of starting too soon in a race
: an unsuccessful attempt to begin something (such as a career or a project)

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with false start

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