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

Related Words for falteringly

shyly, carefully

Examples from the Web for falteringly

Historical Examples of falteringly

  • "Perhaps not everything is sad," I made answer, falteringly.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • "I have come to speak of it—to ask pardon for it—I was in the wrong," he said, falteringly.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • How falteringly, and with what pathos she used this grand old word now!

  • "I can not tell you that, Miss Rogers," answered Bernardine, falteringly.

    Jolly Sally Pendleton

    Laura Jean Libbey

  • "It was because the police believe that Hazel was—was in love with you, Phil," she falteringly said.

    The Hand in the Dark

    Arthur J. Rees

British Dictionary definitions for falteringly



(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 falteringly



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