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wa·​ver ˈwā-vər How to pronounce waver (audio)
wavered; wavering
ˈwā-və-riŋ How to pronounce waver (audio)

intransitive verb

: to vacillate irresolutely between choices : fluctuate in opinion, allegiance, or direction
: to weave or sway unsteadily to and fro : reel, totter
: quiver, flicker
wavering flames
: to hesitate as if about to give way : falter
: to give an unsteady sound : quaver
waverer noun
ˈwā-və- How to pronounce waver (audio)


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noun (1)

: an act of wavering, quivering, or fluttering


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noun (2)

wav·​er ˈwā-vər How to pronounce waver (audio)
: one that waves
Choose the Right Synonym for waver

swing, sway, oscillate, vibrate, fluctuate, waver, undulate mean to move from one direction to its opposite.

swing implies a movement of something attached at one end or one side.

the door suddenly swung open

sway implies a slow swinging or teetering movement.

trees swaying in the breeze

oscillate stresses a usually regular alternation of direction.

an oscillating fan

vibrate suggests the rapid oscillation of an elastic body under stress or impact.

the vibrating strings of a piano

fluctuate suggests constant irregular changes of level, intensity, or value.

fluctuating interest rates

waver stresses irregular motion suggestive of reeling or tottering.

the exhausted runner wavered before collapsing

undulate suggests a gentle wavelike motion.

an undulating sea of grass

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 waver in a Sentence

Verb people who are still wavering between the two candidates They never wavered in their support for their leader. Despite the changes, he did not waver from his plan to retire. The kite wavered in the wind.
Recent Examples on the Web
Confidence in outwardly expressing their Jewishness has wavered. Sophie Carson, Journal Sentinel, 8 May 2024 Two home runs have marred his hot start to the 2024 campaign, but McArthur has not wavered in his confidence. Jaylon Thompson, Kansas City Star, 8 May 2024 The result of Warner’s experiment is a gentle tune that captures Travis’ relaxed style, which rarely wavered far from its baritone foundation. Wes Davis, The Verge, 5 May 2024 The president's remarks underscored the delicate line Biden is walking to keep intact the Democratic coalition, including young voters protesting the war in Gaza, while not wavering from his support for Israel. David Jackson, USA TODAY, 4 May 2024 The hush that fell over uptown Charlotte’s First Baptist Church — a grand structure that holds its own among the city’s towers — wavered as the 2-year-old came into view. Julia Coin, Charlotte Observer, 3 May 2024 Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo hasn't wavered from trying to secure a new home for pro hockey on state land in north Phoenix. Corina Vanek, The Arizona Republic, 19 Apr. 2024 Signed into law on April 16, the legislation comes at a time when Ukraine faces a series of growing challenges in its defense against Russia, from shortages of soldiers and ammunition to wavering Western support. Nataliya Gumenyuk, Foreign Affairs, 19 Apr. 2024 None of this may be enough to win over voters on the left who are angry about Biden’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza, especially younger voters who supported him decisively in 2020 but now appear to be wavering. Eyal Press, The New Yorker, 18 Apr. 2024
In just a matter of hours, Hugo shifts between an array of tasks, serving as a baby kisser, flag waver, liaison, waiter and a pregame hype person to name a few. Roderick Boone, Charlotte Observer, 28 Mar. 2024 Both stars were in attendance at the festival alongside their director amid the ongoing Hollywood strikes after having received a waver from SAG-AFTRA. Jessica Wang, EW.com, 4 Sep. 2023 The boys, in their adolescent confusion and awakening, waver between the impulse to save and the impulse to hurt. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Feb. 2024 The announcement coincides with the launch of a new and incredibly innovative tool, The Power Bottom, which allows users to interchange 3 different heat tools (a waver tool, a curling wand, and a curling iron) with 1 power base. Sarah Boyd, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 Crafted from ceramic metal, this waver not only prevents heat damage but also ensures a gentler touch on your hair. Poppy Morgan, Rolling Stone, 27 Nov. 2023 Meanwhile a frail little boy is slowly dying of consumption, doubts arise about Zosima’s sanctity, and Alyosha’s faith wavers. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 24 Aug. 2023 Attendance wavers; the biggest attracted around 60. Roxana Popescu, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Dec. 2023 Kremlin leader seeks to turn advantage in manpower and munitions into battlefield progress, while Western will and assistance for Kyiv waver KYIV, Ukraine—As Russia’s war against Ukraine approaches its third year, Moscow holds the advantage on the military, political and economic fronts. Marcus Walker, WSJ, 27 Nov. 2023

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

Word History



Middle English; akin to Old English wǣfre restless, wafian to wave with the hands — more at wave

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (1)

1519, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1835, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of waver was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near waver

Cite this Entry

“Waver.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/waver. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


wavered; wavering
: to go back and forth between choices
: to weave or sway to and fro
: to move unsteadily

More from Merriam-Webster on waver

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