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 Was this a start for this franchise in building this game — or another false start in the way so many other good seasons looked? Dave Hyde, sun-sentinel.com, 18 May 2021 The runners in the men’s 110-meter hurdles final Saturday night at the U.S. Olympic trials had just been called back to the blocks for a false start. oregonlive, 27 June 2021 In the 400-meter hurdles, senior John Ferrarelli was knocked out of contention after a false start. BostonGlobe.com, 20 June 2021 Not jumping offsides, that's a dumb penalty; false start, that's a dumb penalty. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, 10 Dec. 2020 In what could be the great reawakening to the domestic theatrical box office or merely another false start, Paramount’s A Quiet Place part II topped the long Memorial Day weekend with $57 million. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 31 May 2021 Tre'Bien Gilbert was disqualified because of a false start. Arkansas Online, 30 May 2021 On an offensive drive starting at their own 5-yard line, the Red Raiders went three and out largely due to false start and a delay of game penalties. Brice Paterik, Dallas News, 12 Sep. 2020 Hartman had just been kicked out of the faceoff circle for a false start. Dave Campbell, ajc, 21 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for false start

Time Traveler

The first known use of false start was in 1815

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Dictionary Entries Near false start

false spirea

false start

false sting

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Statistics for false start

Last Updated

22 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“False start.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/false%20start. Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

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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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