fal·ter | \ˈfȯl-tər \
faltered; faltering\ˈfȯl-t(ə-)riŋ \

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 \ noun
falteringly \ˈfȯl-t(ə-)riŋ-lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for falter

Synonyms: Verb

balance, dither, halt, hang back, hesitate, scruple, shilly-shally, stagger, teeter, vacillate, waver, wobble (also wabble)

Antonyms: Verb

dive (in), plunge (in)

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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


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

Domestic migration remains negative as more residents move away than come from other parts of the U.S. As birth rates among residents continue to falter, immigrants tend to be younger and have more babies. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Will a slowdown in refugees hurt San Diego County’s economy?," 29 June 2018 The stock price of Kate Spade’s parent company, Tapestry, faltered on Tuesday before recovering later in the week. Abha Bhattarai, BostonGlobe.com, "Kate Spade stepped away from her brand a decade ago. But what happens now?," 8 June 2018 The expansion into the fresh business hurt profit margins, while the company’s core brands, including U.S. soup, continued to falter. Annie Gasparro, WSJ, "Campbell CEO Departs After Bet On Fresh Food Falls Short," 18 May 2018 The league’s broadcast television package runs through 2022, but the next round of negotiations could be more difficult if ratings continue to falter. Katherine Peralta And Rick Rothacker, charlotteobserver, "Why buying the Carolina Panthers – or any NFL team – is risky business | Charlotte Observer," 23 Mar. 2018 As with anything electronic, smart locks can falter at the worst time if the power source dies. Joshua Fruhlinger, WSJ, "Is It Smart to Install a Smart Lock?," 11 July 2018 The Texas Republicans whose two favorites in the last presidential race faltered (Cruz and Perry) are now unreservedly in President Donald Trump’s corner. Ross Ramsey, star-telegram, "Texans’ views now more like the rest of the country," 29 June 2018 Racial differences rise to the top of voters’ minds when the economy falters, heating up both the competition for jobs and the debate over the use of tax dollars. New York Times, "Whites’ Unease Shadows the Politics of a More Diverse America," 22 May 2018 The findings could explain why progress cleaning air pollution in California and other parts of the country is faltering at a time when official estimates show pollution should be steadily declining. Tony Barboza, latimes.com, "Slowdown in emissions reductions could explain stalled progress on smog, study finds," 30 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Borrowers may struggle to repay their loans if interest rates continue to rise or global growth falters, the BOE said. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "BOE Warns of Growing Risks in Global Debt Markets," 27 June 2018 Why, then, does the pulse of the narrative falter in the second half? Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Gus Van Sant’s Semi-Surreal “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot”," 13 July 2018 The Broncos are left without a prized rookie QB to take over if Case Keenum falters, but the team around Keenum has been improved. Mark Maske, chicagotribune.com, "AFC draft grades: The Broncos are alone at the top followed by a lot of pass/fails," 30 Apr. 2018 Then again, maybe the Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs falter and find themselves out of the playoff picture for the first time since 1997. Sam Amick, USA TODAY, "Viewer's guide to NBA's wild Western Conference playoff race," 2 Apr. 2018 In other words, a lot of Chinese capital is still eyeing the exits: If global trade falters and U.S. rates rise, China’s currency could be in for another test sooner than many expect. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Is the Yuan in China’s Trade-War Arsenal?," 13 Apr. 2018 But jobs could be in jeopardy if business falters, critics say. C. J. Hughes, New York Times, "In the Catskills, New Hope for the Return of Tourism," 27 Mar. 2018 Sinclair anticipates that improved blood flow could be important in helping not just aging tissues and organs, but speeding healing of wounds, particularly for people with diabetes who often lose fingers and toes as their circulation falters. Alice Park, Time, "This Compound Can Reverse Aging in Mice. Will It Work in People?," 22 Mar. 2018 Stockmann is able to persuade his friends, including the editor of the newspaper, that telling the truth about the water is important, but his environmental campaign falters. Rachel Shteir, New York Times, "Ibsen Wrote ‘An Enemy of the People’ in 1882. Trump Has Made It Popular Again.," 9 Mar. 2018

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


Middle English


see falter entry 1

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Statistics for falter

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for falter

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

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More Definitions for falter



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 \
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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