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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Microtransit may also falter when the pandemic ends and more people are commuting again. Doug Johnson, Wired, "Microtransit Gives City Agencies a Lift During the Pandemic," 20 June 2020 The central bank meets again today to determine if its €750 billion PEPP asset-purchase plan is enough to revive the faltering eurozone economy. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Could this be the best bull run ever?," 4 June 2020 The February White House visit and the promise to buy American arms were meant to shake loose agricultural trade preferences to lift Ecuador’s faltering economy, Rivera explained. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Ecuador ‘bluff’ buys goodwill from US, not military hardware," 3 June 2020 Without the search-and-software giant’s apps, smartphone fixtures around the world, the once-relentless march of Huawei’s phones is faltering. Dan Strumpf, WSJ, "Huawei Struggles to Get Along Without Google," 12 May 2020 Since demand is faltering amid the outbreak, the impact of currency weakness on prices will be more limited, said Garanti BBVA Securities economist Seda Guler, before the data. Cagan Koc, Bloomberg.com, "Turkish Inflation Cools as Cheaper Oil Outweighs Lira Losses," 10 May 2020 So McVay will be challenged to reignite an offense that ranked as one of the NFL’s highest-scoring units in 2017 and 2018 before faltering last season. Los Angeles Times, "Josh Reynolds flashing ‘legit juice’ on the deep ball made Brandin Cooks expendable for Rams," 28 Apr. 2020 The pandemic means states are once again in the lead role at a time the federal government is faltering. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "To combat coronavirus, states are relearning lessons from the climate fight," 16 Apr. 2020 The initial federal response was faltering, with test kits malfunctioning and the president downplaying the risk. Nick Burns, National Review, "America’s Response to the Coronavirus Proves Federalism Isn’t Dead," 2 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But that success could be threatened if efforts to keep the jail’s population low falter, officials said. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "Cuyahoga County Jail’s efforts to stem coronavirus spread a success, but pitfalls loom, officials say," 20 May 2020 The familiar debates of our time rage as the snow falls, the food runs out and the electricity falters. Washington Post, "18 things to do in the D.C. area this week," 2 Mar. 2020 Even as business falters, Gautier and other vendors have offered deals for students whose proms have been canceled. Ashley Mcbride, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio high school proms are coronavirus prey — even the workarounds," 28 Mar. 2020 Even in a best-case scenario, in which the outbreak is more limited, global growth is predicted to fall to 2.4% for the year, as supply chains are hit, tourism falls and confidence falters, according to the OECD. Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News, "Coronavirus could cut global economic growth outlook in half, OECD warns," 2 Mar. 2020 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about falter

Time Traveler for falter

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for falter

Last Updated

25 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Falter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/falter. Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!