fal·​ter | \ ˈfȯl-tər How to pronounce falter (audio) \
faltered; faltering\ ˈfȯl-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce falter (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 falter (audio) \ noun
falteringly \ ˈfȯl-​t(ə-​)riŋ-​lē How to pronounce falter (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 Gorpcore is not about designer labels cynically co-opting the outdoor look, creating fragile mountaineering boots that look the part but would falter on the trail. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Gorpcore: How Arc’teryx Parkas and Salomon Hiking Boots Became High Fashion," 2 Jan. 2021 Hospitals are grappling with a rising tide of coronavirus cases while their budgets falter because fewer patients seek elective surgeries and other types of care. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Vaccine freezer, Christmas cheer, Iditarod trail switch: News from around our 50 states," 24 Dec. 2020 Last season the defense was known to put together one strong performance and then falter in the next game that wasn't the case on Saturday. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Three things we learned from Louisville's win over Florida State," 24 Oct. 2020 For months, Attaran has been an unsparing critic, warning that by measuring itself against an American yardstick, Canada's Covid-19 response was bound to falter. Paula Newton, CNN, "Canada crushed the Covid-19 curve but complacency is fueling a deadly second wave," 8 Dec. 2020 Community colleges across the country have seen enrollments falter as the pandemic has exacerbated an already downward trend. Rachel Leingang, The Arizona Republic, "Enrollment plummets at Maricopa Community Colleges for fall semester," 2 Dec. 2020 Though the trappings around them may falter from time to time, Davis and Boseman are at the top of their game throughout. Mark Olsen Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Indie Focus: A dazzling ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’," 25 Nov. 2020 Economists warn that consumer spending could falter further in the current October-December quarter given that many of the big government support programs have expired and Congress has yet to renew the assistance. Martin Crutsinger, Star Tribune, "Consumer spending up a slight 0.5% as virus maintains grip," 25 Nov. 2020 In the West, stop-start lockdowns have impeded travel and the recovery is expected to falter again during the current surge of coronavirus infections. Joe Wallace, WSJ, "East-West Divide in Oil Prices Draws Crude to Asia," 20 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Congressional leaders advanced the short-term extension in federal funding as negotiations over an emergency economic relief package appeared to falter and prospects of a major breakthrough dimmed. Washington Post, "Live updates: FDA panel prepares to consider Pfizer vaccine, as U.S. reports record 3,140 deaths in a single day," 10 Dec. 2020 Cheesecake Factory has seen its sales falter during the crisis. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Cheesecake Factory settles charges it misled investors about how badly Covid-19 was hitting its business," 4 Dec. 2020 The standings are so tight, though, that if Spurs falter, four other teams — including Chelsea, which could get Christian Pulisic back from a hamstring injury this weekend — are poised to join or pass them. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, "Return of U.S. women’s team highlights soccer action from Europe on TV this weekend," 26 Nov. 2020 Lee falter in his steady volume of fire and succumb to his wounds. Drew Broach | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "On Veterans Day, meet all 26 of Louisiana's Medal of Honor recipients," 10 Nov. 2020 Crazy Beautiful, also trained by McPeek, was second in the Alcibiades and could pick up the pieces late if the front-runners falter. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Picks to win, horses to avoid while wagering on Friday's Breeders' Cup races at Keeneland," 5 Nov. 2020 Food organizations warn that levels of acute hunger are growing as economies and incomes falter, however, and that delays at ports are persisting. Paul Page, WSJ, "Today’s Logistics Report: Resilient Food Supply Chains; Walmart Pops Up; Crude’s Slipping Demand," 13 Nov. 2020 Watching the Alabama defense falter in his absence was difficult last for Moses to stomach last fall. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "Why injured Dylan Moses dressed in full gear for 2019 LSU game," 10 Nov. 2020 As negotiations for a second stimulus payment falter, the IRS is pushing to finish distributing payments to people who have yet to receive relief funds authorized earlier this year. Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, "The IRS is making a final push to get stimulus payments to millions of Americans," 26 Oct. 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

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Falter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/falter. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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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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