verb (used without object)


an act of wavering, fluttering, or vacillating.

Origin of waver

1275–1325; Middle English (see wave, -er6); cognate with dialectal German wabern to move about, Old Norse vafra to toddle
Related formswa·ver·er, nounwa·ver·ing·ly, adverbnon·wa·ver·ing, adjectiveun·wa·vered, adjectiveun·wa·ver·ing, adjectiveun·wa·ver·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for waver

4. quiver. 5. Waver, fluctuate, vacillate refer to an alternation or hesitation between one direction and another. Waver means to hesitate between choices: to waver between two courses of action. Fluctuate suggests irregular change from one side to the other or up and down: The prices of stocks fluctuate when there is bad news followed by good. Vacillate is to make up one's mind and change it again suddenly; to be undecided as to what to do: We must not vacillate but must set a day.




a person who waves or causes something to wave: Election time brings out the wavers of flags and haranguers of mobs.
a person who specializes in waving hair.
something, as a curling iron, used for waving hair.

Origin of waver

First recorded in 1550–60; wave + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for waver

Contemporary Examples of waver

Historical Examples of waver

  • Once there was a waver in the line, such as precedes a rush.

  • He had settled opinions about Mrs. Roberts now, from which he would not be likely to waver.

  • Grant did not even look at Phoebe, but his purpose seemed to waver in spite of himself.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • She seemed to waver, but stood—speechless, as if waiting for more.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • Despite the agony, his gaze did not waver from the video set across the room.

    No Hiding Place

    Richard R. Smith

British Dictionary definitions for waver


verb (intr)

to be irresolute; hesitate between two possibilities
to become unsteady
to fluctuate or vary
to move back and forth or one way and another
(of light) to flicker or flash


the act or an instance of wavering
Derived Formswaverer, nounwavering, adjectivewaveringly, adverb

Word Origin for waver

C14: from Old Norse vafra to flicker; related to German wabern to move about
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 waver

late 13c., weyveren, "to show indecision," probably related to Old English wæfre "restless, wavering," from Proto-Germanic *wæbraz (cf. Middle High German wabern "to waver," Old Norse vafra "to hover about"), a frequentative form from the root of wave (v.). Related: Wavered; wavering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper