To hesitate or waver in action, speech, or thought, often due to uncertainty, lack of confidence, or physical weakness.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



hesitate, waver, vacillate, dither, stumble, stutter, pause, flounder, teeter, fluctuate


proceed, continue, advance, persist, steady, assert, decisive, resolute, confident, unwavering

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun faltering, falter, falters, falterings
Verb faltering, falters, faltered, falter
Adjective faltering
Adverb falteringly

Example Sentences

  • He began to falter in his speech as the large audience stared expectantly at him.

  • The hiker’s legs started to falter as they reached the steep and treacherous section of the trail.

  • She couldn’t help but falter in her resolve when faced with his intense gaze and charming smile.

  • The company’s sales began to falter due to the economic downturn, leading to significant financial losses.


The word “falter” dates back to the 14th century and has its roots in Middle English and Old English. The verb “falter” is derived from the Old English word “fealtian,” which means “to stumble” or “to be unsteady.” It can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic word “faltōną,” which carries the same meaning.

The word “falter” is primarily used as a verb to describe the action of hesitating or wavering in various contexts. It often conveys a sense of uncertainty, lack of confidence, or physical weakness. It is frequently used in relation to speech and communication, where a person might falter in their words due to nervousness or lack of clarity. Additionally, it can be used to describe a person’s actions or decisions, indicating a momentary pause or inability to proceed with conviction.

A notable aspect of the word “falter” is that it does not typically take prefixes or suffixes, retaining its simple form in most cases. However, it can be combined with adverbs or adjectives to modify its meaning or intensity. For example, one may say “he heavily faltered” to emphasize the severity of the hesitation or “she faltered momentarily” to convey a temporary pause.

Overall, “falter” is a versatile verb that finds its usage in a range of scenarios, highlighting the fragility of human decision-making, communication, and physical abilities. It is a word that captures the nuances of uncertainty and temporary setbacks that individuals might face in their endeavors.