fal·​ter | \ ˈfȯl-tər How to pronounce falter (audio) \
faltered; faltering\ ˈfȯl-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce faltering (audio) \

Definition of falter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to walk unsteadily : stumble the … stranger falters out of the thicket and drops to his knees— Dudley Fitts
b : to give way : totter could feel my legs faltering
c : to move waveringly or hesitatingly forced to bail out of faltering airplanes over the AlpsNat'l Geographic
2 : to speak brokenly or weakly : stammer her voice faltered
3a : to hesitate in purpose or action : waver he never faltered in his determination
b : to lose drive or effectiveness the business was faltering

transitive verb

: to utter hesitatingly or brokenly faltered an excuse



Definition of falter (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or instance of faltering

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Other Words from falter


falterer \ ˈfȯl-​tər-​ər How to pronounce falterer (audio) \ noun
falteringly \ ˈfȯl-​t(ə-​)riŋ-​lē How to pronounce falteringly (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for falter


hesitate, waver, vacillate, falter mean to show irresolution or uncertainty. hesitate implies a pause before deciding or acting or choosing. hesitated before answering the question waver implies hesitation after seeming to decide and so connotes weakness or a retreat. wavered in his support of the rebels vacillate implies prolonged hesitation from inability to reach a firm decision. vacillated until events were out of control falter implies a wavering or stumbling and often connotes nervousness, lack of courage, or outright fear. never once faltered during her testimony

Examples of falter in a Sentence

Verb The business was faltering due to poor management. Their initial optimism has faltered. signs that the economy is faltering Her steps began to falter.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The passing game faltered against Florida and LSU, but so did the entire offense. Giana Han, al, "Grading Auburn’s 2019 season," 5 Jan. 2020 Just like against the Buckeyes in November, U-M's offense burst out of the gates and faltered late. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's reality unchanged after Citrus Bowl loss: Not quite elite," 1 Jan. 2020 The host Bulldogs faltered in the fourth quarter of their Big East opener as the Pirates outscored them 24-8. Staff Reports, Indianapolis Star, "State college basketball: Notre Dame men win, women lose," 29 Dec. 2019 Golden State, up 3-1 in the series at that point, faltered without Green and never recovered. Susan Slusser, SFChronicle.com, "The Bay Area’s most forgettable sports moments in an unforgettable decade," 22 Dec. 2019 But negotiations faltered after the United States rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North’s nuclear capabilities, at Kim’s second summit with Trump in Vietnam in February. BostonGlobe.com, "SEOUL — North Korea said Saturday that it successfully performed another “crucial test” at its long-range rocket launch site that will further strengthen its “strategic nuclear deterrent.”," 15 Dec. 2019 Slowing lending has contributed to faltering economic growth. Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times, "China’s Companies Binged on Debt. Now They Can’t Pay the Bill.," 12 Dec. 2019 Georgieva also faces faltering global growth and concern of recessions in Germany and Italy as the U.S.-China trade war weighs on businesses and financial markets. Michael Winfrey, Bloomberg.com, "IMF Board Selects Bulgaria’s Georgieva as Managing Director," 25 Sep. 2019 But while Lester faltered later game, Kershaw improved. Jorge Castillo, latimes.com, "Dodgers shake off offensive slumber to beat the Cubs," 13 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Scherzer positioned his Nationals to take advantage of any falter by the Astros. Michael Powell, New York Times, "For Astros in the World Series, a Surprising Hook and a Sudden Fall," 31 Oct. 2019 The merged entity will have strategic focus and sales heft to rival Boeing Co., but greater diversification across commercial aircraft products and defense contracts, providing more of a buffer should either market falter. Washington Post, "Bill Ackman Misses the Mark With His Raytheon Deal Critique," 13 June 2019 The hottest team in the league at the moment and ready to make a play for home-field advantage if New England falters. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL playoff picture after Week 11: Fluid outlook throughout AFC, NFC," 18 Nov. 2019 At a point when the world has seen communism falter as an imperfect system to manage people; democracy seems to be headed down the same road. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Donald Trump’s New Lost Cause," 3 Oct. 2019 Here are 10 leading candidates to take those two slots (and more, if one or more of the front-runners falters). Paul Grein, Billboard, "Maren Morris, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett & More Front-Runners for Best Country Album at 2020 Grammys," 21 Oct. 2019 Still, high confidence is probably playing a role in keeping the United States out of a recession, even as other parts of the world falter. 13. Heather Long, Washington Post, "The Trump economy vs. the Obama economy, in 15 charts," 20 Aug. 2019 With small donors, success can breed success, but a falter on the trail can touch off a cash crisis. Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times, "Small donors don’t cut it for many Democratic candidates. Back to the rich," 4 Sep. 2019 His pace is as electric as ever, his passing crisp as could be and well, even when his finishing falters, those aforementioned German defenders are more than willing to oblige. SI.com, "90min's Definitive European Player Power Rankings: International Break Special," 9 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'falter.' 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 falter


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1834, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for falter

Verb and Noun

Middle English

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Learn More about falter

Time Traveler for falter

Time Traveler

The first known use of falter was in the 14th century

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Statistics for falter

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Falter.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/falter. Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for falter


How to pronounce falter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of falter

: to stop being strong or successful : to begin to fail or weaken
: to begin to walk or move in an unsteady way
: to feel doubt about doing something


fal·​ter | \ ˈfȯl-tər How to pronounce falter (audio) \
faltered; faltering

Kids Definition of falter

1 : to move unsteadily : waver
2 : to hesitate in speech
3 : to hesitate in purpose or action

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More from Merriam-Webster on falter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for falter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with falter

Spanish Central: Translation of falter

Nglish: Translation of falter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of falter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on falter

What made you want to look up falter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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