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 Consumer spending may falter over the winter if Washington doesn’t deliver a new round of stimulus, according to Mr. Temple. Joe Wallace And Karen Langley, WSJ, "Stocks Rise as Choppy Week on Wall Street Nears End," 16 Oct. 2020 Strong financial support from the government and the Federal Reserve have helped the economy bounce back from the pandemic recession, but the rebound may falter without further aid, Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned Tuesday. CBS News, "Fed chair Jay Powell pushes for more stimulus, warning of economic "downward spiral"," 6 Oct. 2020 Norwegian Air was one of the few airline stocks to falter yesterday, plunging more than 11% on news Oslo won't give them any more pandemic relief dough. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Value stocks in, growth stocks out—has the mighty 2020 bull market rally hit an inflection point?," 10 Nov. 2020 Iowa’s offensive line set the tone for the blowout and exposed one of the shortcomings of a 4-2-5 defense, which specializes in spread offenses and can falter against traditional power-run systems. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football stock watch: A few bright spots in nightmare at Iowa," 9 Nov. 2020 But heading into the stretch, Princess Noor started to falter and Vequist moved side by side with the leader and eventually pulled away at the end. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Breeders’ Cup big day is here," 7 Nov. 2020 FIC Restaurants, the company that owns the chain, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late Sunday, becoming the latest in a series of casual dining companies to falter amid the pandemic. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Friendly's restaurant chain files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid pandemic woes," 2 Nov. 2020 The two teams were deadlocked until the fifth set when Providence began to falter, showed signs of nerves and made uncharacteristic mistakes. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, "Providence volleyball season loses against Yorktown in 5 sets in Class 4A semi-states," 1 Nov. 2020 While businesses falter downtown, storefronts in Historic Anacostia are also in particularly desperate shape. Washington Post, "Sputtering summer sales, dwindling federal aid cripples D.C.’s small businesses," 9 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 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

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

28 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Falter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/falter. Accessed 3 Dec. 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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