Origin of halt

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

Synonyms for halt

Synonym study

2. See stop.



verb (used without object)

to falter, as in speech, reasoning, etc.; be hesitant; stumble.
to be in doubt; waver between alternatives; vacillate.
Archaic. to be lame; walk lamely; limp.


Archaic. lame; limping.


Archaic. lameness; a limp.
(used with a plural verb) lame people, especially severely lamed ones (usually preceded by the): the halt and the blind.

Origin of halt

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for halt

Contemporary Examples of halt

Historical Examples of halt

  • And he brought the mare to a halt by jerking the rope around her neck.

  • In the hall a halt was made and the dreaded good-byes began.

  • Magnificent was the day, indeed, and sorely did La Malne tempt us to a halt.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • As she came near him his hand closed over hers, bringing her to a halt.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • First the blind, then the deaf and the dumb, then the halt and the lame—and so on.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for halt




an interruption or end to activity, movement, or progress
mainly British a minor railway station, without permanent buildings
call a halt to put an end (to something); stop

noun, sentence substitute

a command to halt, esp as an order when marching


to come or bring to a halt

Word Origin for halt

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



verb (intr)

(esp of logic or verse) to falter or be defective
to waver or be unsure
archaic to be lame


  1. lame
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the halt


archaic lameness

Word Origin for halt

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 halt

"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 halt


see call a halt; come to a halt; grind to a halt.

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