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verb (used without object)
  1. to sway to and fro; flutter: Foliage wavers in the breeze.
  2. to flicker or quiver, as light: A distant beam wavered and then disappeared.
  3. become unsteady; begin to fail or give way: When she heard the news her courage wavered.
  4. to shake or tremble, as the hands or voice: Her voice wavered.
  5. to feel or show doubt, indecision, etc.; vacillate: He wavered in his determination.
  6. (of things) to fluctuate or vary: Prices wavered.
  7. to totter or reel: The earth quaked and the tower wavered.
  1. 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

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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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wavering

Contemporary Examples of wavering

Historical Examples of wavering

  • He confirmed his friends in their confidence, fixed the wavering, and gratified all.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Hetty's eyes were fixed on his now, with no wavering in their gaze.

  • Only her husband's earnest remonstrances decided her wavering will.

  • Yet hitherto our star has been a vacillating and wavering star?

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Wavering faith, in its chosen determining principles, is confirmed.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for wavering


verb (intr)
  1. to be irresolute; hesitate between two possibilities
  2. to become unsteady
  3. to fluctuate or vary
  4. to move back and forth or one way and another
  5. (of light) to flicker or flash
  1. 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 wavering



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