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falter

[fawl-ter]
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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.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to utter hesitatingly or brokenly: to falter an apology.
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noun
  1. the act of faltering; an unsteadiness of gait, voice, action, etc.
  2. a faltering sound.
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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

Related Words for faltering

reel, flounder, hesitate, waver, wobble, totter, fluff, vacillate, halt, teeter, stammer, rock, quaver, lurch, scruple, break, fluctuate, stagger, shake, topple

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

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
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noun
  1. uncertainty or hesitancy in speech or action
  2. a quavering or irregular sound
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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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper