verb (used without object)

to hesitate or waver in action, purpose, intent, etc.; give way: Her courage did not falter at the prospect of hardship.
to speak hesitatingly or brokenly.
to move unsteadily; stumble.

verb (used with object)

to utter hesitatingly or brokenly: to falter an apology.


the act of faltering; an unsteadiness of gait, voice, action, etc.
a faltering sound.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for faltering

Contemporary Examples of faltering

Historical Examples of faltering

  • My voice had a faltering, mournful sound, and there was no answer.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • Lucindy began her confession, with eyes down-dropped and a faltering voice.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Boxtel muttered, with a faltering voice; "the thing is impossible."

    The Black Tulip

    Alexandre Dumas (Pere)

  • At last, however, she succeeded in faltering out an explanation.

    Salted With Fire

    George MacDonald

  • "'Tis Max, Max Rodenstein," said the lady, with a faltering voice.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

British Dictionary definitions for faltering



(intr) to be hesitant, weak, or unsure; waver
(intr) to move unsteadily or hesitantly; stumble
to utter haltingly or hesitantly; stammer


uncertainty or hesitancy in speech or action
a quavering or irregular sound
Derived Formsfalterer, nounfalteringly, adverb

Word Origin for falter

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 faltering



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper