Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To be unsteady in purpose or action, as from loss of courage or confidence; waver. See Synonyms at hesitate.
  • intransitive v. To speak hesitatingly; stammer.
  • intransitive v. To move ineptly or haltingly; stumble.
  • intransitive v. To operate or perform unsteadily or with a loss of effectiveness: The automobile engine faltered.
  • n. Unsteadiness in speech or action.
  • n. A faltering sound.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. unsteadiness.
  • v. To waver or be unsteady.
  • v. To stammer.
  • v. To stumble.
  • v. To lose faith or vigor; to doubt or abandon (a cause).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To thrash in the chaff; also, to cleanse or sift, as barley.
  • intransitive v. To hesitate; to speak brokenly or weakly; to stammer.
  • intransitive v. To tremble; to totter; to be unsteady.
  • intransitive v. To hesitate in purpose or action.
  • intransitive v. To fail in distinctness or regularity of exercise; -- said of the mind or of thought.
  • transitive v. To utter with hesitation, or in a broken, trembling, or weak manner.
  • n. Hesitation; trembling; feebleness; an uncertain or broken sound.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To be unsteady; tremble; totter: as, his legs falter.
  • To fail in accuracy, distinctness, or regularity of exercise or function; fail or waver from physical or moral weakness, emotion, etc.
  • To hesitate, especially to hesitate in the utterance of words; speak with a broken or trembling utterance; stammer: as, his tongue falters.
  • Synonyms Stutter, etc. See stammer.
  • n. The act of faltering, hesitating, trembling, stammering, or the like; unsteadiness; hesitation; trembling; quavering.
  • To thresh in the chaff; cleanse or sift out, as barley.

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

  • v. walk unsteadily
  • n. the act of pausing uncertainly
  • v. speak haltingly
  • v. be unsure or weak
  • v. move hesitatingly, as if about to give way

Etymologies

Middle English falteren, to stagger, possibly from Old Norse faltrask, to be puzzled, hesitate.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English falteren ("to stagger"), probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse faltrast, be encumbered) or from a Middle English frequentative of falden, folden ("to fold"). More at fold. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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