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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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Some of these places have seen their eastern wild turkey populations falter by as much as 50 percent. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 27 Mar. 2024 In the video, the bridge faltered first on the left side of the frame, then in the center, and then its long truss snapped and the right span fell, all in a matter of a few seconds. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2024 Elsewhere, Ecuador faltered against Italy and Uruguay really fell flat on their previous good form with defeat to the Ivory Coast and a draw in the Basque Country. Joseph O'Sullivan, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 At that time, Spielberg’s magic touch, his innate sense of what an audience desired and how to deliver it, had faltered. Brent Lang, Variety, 6 Mar. 2024 He’s had so many hurdles and roadblocks, and he’s just faltered. Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald, 2 Mar. 2024 The trend isn't new, but tends to resurface when the economy falters, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article noting that the number of employers offering people new job titles in lieu of commensurate raises has increased 5% since 2018, to 13% in 2024. Anne Marie Lee, CBS News, 20 Mar. 2024 While conservative boycotts of Bud Light and Target saw both falter in sales, Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch InBev grew revenue last quarter after raising prices. Sasha Rogelberg, Fortune, 16 Mar. 2024 The coach vowed to find other players who could get the job done if his current ones continued to falter. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 13 Mar. 2024
Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Egypt on Thursday, and will make a stop in Israel on Friday, as talks for a cease-fire and hostage deal in Gaza falter. Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2024 Pushing back The Russian assault on Avdiivka comes after an unconvincing Ukrainian counter-offensive in the summer and as Western support for Kyiv falters. Vasco Cotovio, CNN, 16 Feb. 2024 Hydrogen excels where battery electric vehicle tech falters. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, 25 Feb. 2024 If one income source falters, others can pick up the slack. Melissa Houston, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 This number could grow if international funding for aid falters. Sarah Yager, Foreign Affairs, 12 Feb. 2024 Maybe the only falter is dessert, a creamy-icy concoction that includes melon panna cotta and fresh sorrel bingsu. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, 18 Jan. 2024 Memory falters, personality changes, language slips, the grasp on complexity vanishes. Natalie De Souza, The New York Review of Books, 1 Feb. 2024 If military support for Ukraine falters, the consequences will be dire for Europe and the rest of the world. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Foreign Affairs, 11 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'falter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 15 Apr. 2024.

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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