Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

falter

[fawl-ter]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to hesitate or waver in action, purpose, intent, etc.; give way: Her courage did not falter at the prospect of hardship.
  2. to speak hesitatingly or brokenly.
  3. to move unsteadily; stumble.
Show More
verb (used with object)
  1. to utter hesitatingly or brokenly: to falter an apology.
Show More
noun
  1. the act of faltering; an unsteadiness of gait, voice, action, etc.
  2. a faltering sound.
Show More

Origin of falter

1300–50; Middle English falteren, of obscure origin; perhaps akin to Old Norse faltrast to bother with, be troubled with
Related formsfal·ter·er, nounfal·ter·ing·ly, adverbnon·fal·ter·ing, adjectivenon·fal·ter·ing·ly, adverbun·fal·ter·ing, adjectiveun·fal·ter·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for falter

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I smiled and held out both my hands to him, and I could see him falter as he looked.

  • “Not very,” Mr Verloc managed to falter out, in a profound shudder.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • I had come and gone twice, and was again sitting by her, when she began to falter.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • Was there anything in the forecast of the night that made him falter?

    Bride of the Mistletoe

    James Lane Allen

  • Still her voice did not falter, and my courage did not give way.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald


British Dictionary definitions for falter

falter

verb
  1. (intr) to be hesitant, weak, or unsure; waver
  2. (intr) to move unsteadily or hesitantly; stumble
  3. to utter haltingly or hesitantly; stammer
Show More
noun
  1. uncertainty or hesitancy in speech or action
  2. a quavering or irregular sound
Show More
Derived Formsfalterer, nounfalteringly, adverb

Word Origin

C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Icelandic faltrast
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for falter

v.

mid-14c., of unknown origin, possibly from a Scandinavian source (cf. Old Norse faltrask "be burdened, hesitate, be troubled"), or a frequentative of Middle English falden "to fold," influenced by fault. Related: Faltered; faltering.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper