Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A device made of rope or leather straps that fits around the head or neck of an animal and is used to lead or secure the animal.
  • n. A rope with a noose used for execution by hanging.
  • n. Death or execution by hanging.
  • n. A halter-top.
  • transitive v. To put a halter on.
  • transitive v. To control with or as if with a halter.
  • transitive v. To hang (someone).
  • n. Either of the small, clublike balancing organs that are the rudimentary hind wings of flies and other dipterous insects. Also called balancer.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A bitless headpiece of rope or straps, placed on the head of animals such as cattle or horses to lead or tie them.
  • n. A rope with a noose, for hanging criminals; the gallows rope.
  • n. A woman's garment covering the upper chest, a halter top.
  • v. To place a halter on.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who halts or limps; a cripple.
  • n. A rope or strap, with or without a headstall, for leading or tying a horse.
  • n. A rope for hanging malefactors; a noose.
  • transitive v. To tie by the neck with a rope, strap, or halter; to put a halter on; to subject to a hangman's halter.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To put a halter on; catch, hold, or make fast with or as if with a halter: as, to halter a horse.
  • To hang with a halter; hang.
  • n. One who halts or limps; hence, one who hesitates as in doubt.
  • n. A rope, cord, or strap having at one end a noose or a head-stall, for leading or confining a horse or other animal.
  • n. A rope specially intended for hanging malefactors; a hangman's noose.
  • n. In entomology, one of the poisers or balancers of insects: usually in the plural.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. rope or canvas headgear for a horse, with a rope for leading
  • n. a woman's top that fastens behind the back and neck leaving the back and arms uncovered
  • v. prevent the progress or free movement of
  • v. hang with a halter
  • n. a rope that is used by a hangman to execute persons who have been condemned to death by hanging
  • n. either of the rudimentary hind wings of dipterous insects; used for maintaining equilibrium during flight

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English hælftre.
Latin haltēr, lead weights used in leaping exercises, from sing. of Greek haltēres, from hallesthai, to jump; see sel- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English halter, helter, helfter, from Old English hælfter, hælftre ("halter"), from Proto-Germanic *halftrō, *halftrijaz (“harness”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kel- (“to cut”), equivalent to half- + -ter. Cognate with Scots helter ("halter"), Dutch halfter, halster ("halter"), Low German halfter, helchter, halter ("halter"), German Halfter ("halter, holster"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I visited the Web site and found the women from different villages in halter tops and short dresses, which may or may not be the clothing that they would usually wear, but it seemed out of place.

    Global Voices in English » Cambodia: Miss Landmine Pageant Raises Questions

  • After all, how often does the plot provide a good reason to display dozens of starlets in halter tops?

    Film

  • His companions look thoughtful, and then their attention turns to two girls in halter tops spinning hula hoops to James Brown singing "I Feel Good."

    Literary Death Match: Wednesday Night in Washington Square Park

  • One slipped the halter from the donkey, and went off with it.

    High Albania

  • And I had one of these -- it's called a halter monitor that you wear.

    CNN Transcript Jun 29, 2001

  • Fidgeting in the halter was a big bay horse, showing all Monarch's quality, and all his good looks; a show ring horse, picked by a keen judge, and built for speed as well as strength.

    Mates at Billabong

  • The usual caparison of the Shoshone horse is a halter and saddle. the 1st. consists either of a round plated or twisted cord of six or seven strands of buffaloe's hair, or a throng of raw hide made pliant by pounding and rubing. these cords of bufaloe's hair are about the size of a man's finger and remarkably strong. this is the kind of halter which is prefered

    Original journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806

  • Unquestionably, if ever the halter was a fit instrument for ridding the earth of monsters, it is in the case of these murderous, fiendish traitors, who inaugurated and guided this colossal and gory treason.

    An Address in Commemoration of the Re-Establishment of the National Flag at Fort Sumter.

  • The halter is the only argument that should be used against the submissionists, and I predict that it will soon, very soon, be in force.

    Tupelo

  • Injustice & England — were they not allied in Henrys [5] time? but when the honest man names a halter, thieves will rub their necks. take my sketch

    Letter 53

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