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  1. faltering or hesitating, especially in speech.
  2. faulty or imperfect.
  3. limping or lame: a halting gait.

Origin of halting

late Middle English word dating back to 1375–1425; see origin at halt2, -ing2
Related formshalt·ing·ly, adverbhalt·ing·ness, nounun·halt·ing, adjectiveun·halt·ing·ly, adverb


verb (used without object)
  1. to stop; cease moving, operating, etc., either permanently or temporarily: They halted for lunch and strolled about.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to stop temporarily or permanently; bring to a stop: They halted operations during contract negotiations.
  1. a temporary or permanent stop.
  1. (used as a command to stop and stand motionless, as to marching troops or to a fleeing suspect.)

Origin of halt1

1615–25; from the phrase make halt for German halt machen. See hold1


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3. cessation, suspension, standstill, stoppage.

Synonym study

2. See stop.


verb (used without object)
  1. to falter, as in speech, reasoning, etc.; be hesitant; stumble.
  2. to be in doubt; waver between alternatives; vacillate.
  3. Archaic. to be lame; walk lamely; limp.
  1. Archaic. lame; limping.
  1. Archaic. lameness; a limp.
  2. (used with a plural verb) lame people, especially severely lamed ones (usually preceded by the): the halt and the blind.

Origin of halt2

before 900; Middle English; Old English healt; cognate with Old High German halz, Old Norse haltr, Gothic halts, akin to Latin clādēs damage, loss
Related formshalt·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for halting

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Suddenly she said in a low, halting tone, "Miss Harlowe, if you knew how—"

  • Inspector Burke himself filled the void in the halting sentence.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • There was no halting over the tiny vials, for she had decided just what she must do.

  • It would seem that Peppajee understood, even though his speech was halting.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • Great enterprises are not pushed through in this halting fashion.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for halting


  1. hesitanthalting speech
  2. lame
Derived Formshaltingly, adverbhaltingness, noun


  1. an interruption or end to activity, movement, or progress
  2. mainly British a minor railway station, without permanent buildings
  3. call a halt to put an end (to something); stop
noun, sentence substitute
  1. a command to halt, esp as an order when marching
  1. to come or bring to a halt

Word Origin

C17: from the phrase to make halt, translation of German halt machen, from halten to hold 1, stop


verb (intr)
  1. (esp of logic or verse) to falter or be defective
  2. to waver or be unsure
  3. archaic to be lame
  1. archaic
    1. lame
    2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the halt
  1. archaic lameness

Word Origin

Old English healt lame; related to Old Norse haltr, Old High German halz lame, Greek kólos maimed, Old Slavonic kladivo hammer
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 halting


"act of limping or walking lamely," early 14c., verbal noun from halt (v.). Related: Haltingly.



"a stop, a halting," 1590s, from French halte (16c.) or Italian alto, ultimately from German Halt, imperative from Old High German halten "to hold" (see hold (v.)). A German military command borrowed into the Romanic languages 16c. The verb in this sense is from 1650s, from the noun. Related: Halted; halting.



"lame," in Old English lemphalt "limping," from Proto-Germanic *haltaz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian halt, Old Norse haltr, Old High German halz, Gothic halts "lame"), from PIE *keld-, from root *kel- "to strike, cut," with derivatives meaning "something broken or cut off" (cf. Russian koldyka "lame," Greek kolobos "broken, curtailed"). The noun meaning "one who limps; the lame collectively" is from c.1200.



"to walk unsteadily," early 14c., from Old English haltian "to be lame," from the same source as halt (adj.). The meaning "make a halt" is 1650s, from halt (n.). As a command word, attested from 1796. Related: Halted; halting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with halting


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.