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

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

: to utter hesitatingly or brokenly
faltered an excuse
falterer noun
falteringly adverb


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: an act or instance of faltering
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

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
In February 2022, Sama and OpenAI’s relationship briefly deepened, only to falter. Time, 18 Jan. 2023 Not much did change, with UCLA forcing turnovers and hanging tough much of the second half, only to falter offensively. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 14 Jan. 2023 However, if the Eagles should falter and the 49ers receive home-field advantage for the conference championship game, the fact is San Francisco is 8-1 straight up at home this season, including 4-1 against fellow playoff teams. Nick Hennion, Chicago Tribune, 11 Jan. 2023 Those talks seemed to falter in September when Iran scoffed at a deal that was said to be agreed by all sides. Fox News, 29 Dec. 2022 The Jaguars just won two straight games against teams in playoff position, and could sneak into a spot if the Dolphins or Titans, who lead the Jaguars in the AFC South by one game, falter down the stretch. Safid Deen, USA TODAY, 21 Dec. 2022 Food delivery giant DoorDash and Kraken, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, both announced job cuts Wednesday as economic headwinds and layoffs continue to batter the tech industry and confidence in crypto continues to falter. Chase Difeliciantonio, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Nov. 2022 Should either team falter down the stretch, both would have appeal to the Holiday Bowl. San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Nov. 2022 Being skeptical in the face of a self-interested narrative is key, and this is where The Vow seems to falter. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 23 Nov. 2022
His odds did falter slightly after Kansas City fell at Cincinnati, 27-24, last weekend. Mohammad Ahmad, cleveland, 9 Dec. 2022 Meanwhile, if no decision is reached before the weekend, economic functions will start falter by Dec. 9. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 1 Dec. 2022 And while Double or Nothing with Big Sean, and Savage Mode II, both falter at points, Metro’s production was never the issue. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 7 Dec. 2022 But the bitter legal and political battles were just a prelude to the unfolding climactic clash that could determine the fate of smoking and whether these companies adapt or falter. Matt Richtel, New York Times, 6 Nov. 2022 Amtrak warned in its statement to CBS News that more disruptions could be in store this week if the rail industry negotiations falter. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 13 Sep. 2022 However, there have been growing numbers of layoffs in Silicon Valley and the broader tech industry as weak startups falter. Laurence Darmiento, Los Angeles Times, 15 June 2022 But as their revenge plans falter, so does their friendship. Leah Campano, Seventeen, 20 Sep. 2022 These systems notoriously struggle to take samples from non-white skin, and falter after major changes of appearance—like weight gain or loss, gender-affirming surgery, or disability. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 11 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Verb and Noun

Middle English

First Known Use


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


1834, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near falter

Cite this Entry

“Falter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/falter. Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


faltered; faltering
: to move unsteadily : waver
: to stumble or hesitate in speech : stammer entry 1
her voice faltered
: to hesitate in purpose or action
courage that never falters
falter noun

More from Merriam-Webster on falter

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