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 But after building thunderous momentum in the first half, the Lions began to falter. Julia Poe, orlandosentinel.com, "Orlando City holds off Sporting KC, extends unbeaten streak," 23 Sep. 2020 That’s one of the reasons cellphone signals can falter in large crowds. Lillian Reed, Washington Post, "Internet network set to beam into Md.’s rural areas won’t help students this fall," 31 Aug. 2020 Signs that Wall Street was becoming increasingly concerned that stimulus talks would falter were already materializing before Trump’s surprise move. Amanda Albright, Bloomberg.com, "America’s Cities Fret as Stimulus Talks Collapse," 6 Oct. 2020 Strong financial support from the government and the Federal Reserve have spurred a solid recovery from the pandemic recession, but the rebound may falter without further aid, Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned Tuesday. Arkansas Online, "Fed's Powell: Lack of further stimulus imperils recovery," 6 Oct. 2020 Strong financial support from the government and the Federal Reserve have spurred a solid recovery from the pandemic recession, but the rebound may falter without further aid, Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned Tuesday. Christopher Rugaber, chicagotribune.com, "Federal Reserve’s Powell urges more stimulus: ‘Too little support would lead to a weak recovery’," 6 Oct. 2020 Beyond that, Kershaw has been a tease before, inching tantalizing close to redemption only to falter again. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "Dodgers Ace Clayton Kershaw Is Ready—Again—to Put His Playoff Struggles Behind Him," 5 Oct. 2020 In 2012, Mitt Romney crushed Barack Obama in their first meeting only to falter in the rematches. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Trump, Biden prepare to debate at time of mounting crises," 29 Sep. 2020 Meanwhile, the country’s grid has continued to falter, even after being rebuilt following Hurricane Maria. Greta Moran, Popular Science, "Severe storms are increasingly leaving us without power. Microgrids can help.," 31 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Just look at measles and polio, which resurge as soon as vaccination efforts falter. Nükhet Varlik, The Conversation, "How do pandemics end? History suggests diseases fade but are almost never truly gone," 14 Oct. 2020 At the moment, as the chart shows, the U.S. dollar index is hovering a few ticks into the red, but has been gaining ground on rival currencies in recent weeks as equities and gold falter. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Investors send markets higher even as COVID concerns grow," 23 Sep. 2020 But if the Reds or Cards falter, the Brewers will be in a battle with the Giants and Mets for that last wild-card spot. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "MLB playoff tiebreakers are different this year, so here's where the Brewers stand with one week left," 21 Sep. 2020 In news that is sure to delight New Orleans Saints fans everywhere, the Atlanta Falcons lost their Week 2 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, 40-39, thanks to a collapse that rivals their infamous falter to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Staff Report, NOLA.com, "Falcons blow 29-10 halftime lead after Cowboys recover onside kick, nail late game field goal," 20 Sep. 2020 After reviving crude prices from an unprecedented collapse over the spring, OPEC+ is seeing the recovery stall and fuel demand falter as the deadly pandemic surges once again. Grant Smith, Bloomberg.com, "OPEC+ Bid to Rescue Oil Market Falters as Demand Recovery Stalls," 12 Sep. 2020 The tax base declines and the school system and civic services falter, creating a negative feedback loop that pushes more people to leave. Meridith Kohut, ProPublica, "Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration," 15 Sep. 2020 All this suggests that, should the recovery falter or Wall Street plunge to new depths, pressure on Congress to do something will ratchet up and the prospects of a bipartisan compromise would brighten. Laurent Belsie, The Christian Science Monitor, "Is the economy running fast or slow? It depends where you look.," 11 Sep. 2020 If negotiations with Canadian autoworkers falter, Ford could face a strike. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Canadian autoworkers pick Ford as possible strike target," 9 Sep. 2020

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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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

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Falter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/falter. Accessed 29 Oct. 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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