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See also: Welter and wélter



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English welteren, equivalent to welt +‎ -er (frequentative suffix). Cognates include German Low German weltern (to wallow; roll), Old Norse velta (Danish vælte), German wälzen, Gothic 𐍅𐌰𐌻𐍄𐌾𐌰𐌽 (waltjan). Akin to wallow and Latin volvō.


welter (plural welters)

  1. A general confusion or muddle, especially of a large number of items.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:hodgepodge
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, chapter 9, in Babbitt, New York, N.Y.: Harcourt, Brace and Company, →OCLC:
      He would, except for his guests, have fled outdoors and walked off the intoxication of food, but in the haze which filled the room they sat forever, talking, talking, while he agonized, “Darn fool to be eating all this—not ’nother mouthful,” and discovered that he was again tasting the sickly welter of melted ice cream on his plate.
    • 1928, Virginia Woolf, chapter 1, in Orlando: A Biography, London: The Hogarth Press, →OCLC; republished as Orlando: A Biography (eBook no. 0200331h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg Australia, July 2015:
      And in truth, his mind was such a welter of opposites—of the night and the blazing candles, of the shabby poet and the great Queen, of silent fields and the clatter of serving men—that he could see nothing; or only a hand.
    • 1997 December 8, Peter Hawthorne, “Mugger of the Nation?”, in Time:
      Most of these allegations have already been published; she has denied them all. [] With the welter of claims and counter-claims and evidence that has been contradictory and based on hearsay, it is unlikely that the Truth Commission will come to any significant conclusion.
    • 2022, Morten H. Christiansen, Nick Chater, chapter 3, in The Language Game [] , →ISBN:
      They use these words to express a welter of opinions on what they think is good or bad, right or wrong, and all too readily wail ‘It's not fair!’.
  2. A tossing or rolling about.


welter (third-person singular simple present welters, present participle weltering, simple past and past participle weltered)

  1. (intransitive) To roll around; to wallow.
    • 1594 (first publication), Christopher Marlow[e], The Trovblesome Raigne and Lamentable Death of Edvvard the Second, King of England: [], London: [] [Eliot’s Court Press] for Henry Bell, [], published 1622, →OCLC, [Act II]:
      [] were it not for shame,
      Shame and dishonour to a soldier’s name,
      Upon my weapon’s point here shouldst thou fall,
      And welter in thy gore.
    • 1817 December 31 (indicated as 1818), [Walter Scott], “[VI]”, in Rob Roy. [], volume III, Edinburgh: [] James Ballantyne and Co. for Archibald Constable and Co. []; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, →OCLC, page 168:
      I had no horse, and the deep and wheeling stream of the river, rendered turbid by the late tumult of which its channel had been the scene, and seeming yet more so under the doubtful influence of an imperfect moonlight, had no inviting influence for a pedestrian by no means accustomed to wade rivers, and who had lately seen horsemen weltering, in this dangerous passage, up to the very saddle laps.
    • 1819, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lines Written among the Euganean Hills[1], lines 11–18:
      And behind, the tempest fleet
      Hurries on with lightning feet,
      Riving sail, and cord, and plank,
      Till the ship has almost drank
      Death from the o’er-brimming deep;
      And sinks down, down, like that sleep
      When the dreamer seems to be
      Weltering through eternity;
    • 1824, Walter Savage Landor, “Conversation XVI. The Emperor Alexander and Capo d’Istria”, in Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen[2], volume 1, London: Taylor and Hessey, page 314:
      You must request their advice how to avert this tremendous evil: you must weep over the decrepid fathers of families, the virtuous wives, the innocent children, the priests at the altar, with God in their mouths, weltering in their blood.
  2. (intransitive, figurative) To revel, luxuriate.
    • 1537, Hugh Latimer, Sermon III, Preached to the Convocation of the Clergy, in The Sermons of Hugh Latimer, London: J. Scott, 1783, Volume I, p. 38,[3]
      When we welter in pleasures and idleness, then we eat and drink with drunkards.
    • 1579, Edmund Spenser, The Shepheardes Calender, “Ivlye” [“July”], lines 197-198, in Ernest de Sélincourt (ed.) Spenser’s Minor Poems, Oxford: Clarendon Press,1910, p. 73[4]
      These wisards weltre in welths waues,
      pampred in pleasures deepe,
      They han fatte kernes, and leany knaues,
      their fasting flockes to keepe.
  3. (intransitive, of waves, billows) To rise and fall, to tumble over, to roll.
    • 1645, John Milton, “On the Morning of Christ's Nativity”, in Poems of Mr. John Milton[5], London: Humphrey Moseley, Stanza XII, pp. 6-7:
      Such Musick (as ’tis said)
      Before was never made,
      But when of old the sons of morning sung,
      While the Creator Great
      His constellations set,
      And the well-ballanc’t world on hinges hung,
      And cast the dark foundations deep,
      And bid the weltring waves their oozy channel keep.
    • 1793, William Wordsworth, “An Evening Walk. Addressed to a Young Lady”, in The Poetical Works of Wordsworth[6], New York: John W. Lovell, published 1800, page 17:
      There, waves that, hardly weltering, die away,
      Tip their smooth ridges with a softer ray;
    • 1835, Richard Chenevix Trench, “The Descent of the Rhone”, in The Story of Justin Martyr and Other Poems[7], London: Edward Moxon, page 78:
      Many a fixed unblinking star
      Unto them that wandering are
      Thro’ this blindly-weltering sea—
    • 1883, Henry James, “XX. Niagara”, in Portraits of Places[8], London: Macmillan, page 369:
      The circle of weltering froth at the base of the Horseshoe, emerging from the dead white vapours—absolute white, as moonless midnight is absolute black—which muffle impenetrably the crash of the river upon the lower bed, melts slowly into the darker shades of green.
    • 1896, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, “Chapter 19”, in The Island of Doctor Moreau (Heinemann’s Colonial Library of Popular Fiction; 52), London: William Heinemann, →OCLC; republished as The Island of Doctor Moreau: A Possibility, New York, N.Y.: Stone & Kimball, 1896, →OCLC:
      He was dead; and even as he died a line of white heat, the limb of the sun, rose eastward beyond the projection of the bay, splashing its radiance across the sky and turning the dark sea into a weltering tumult of dazzling light.
    • 1918, Siegfried Sassoon, “Noah”, in The Old Huntsman, and Other Poems[9], New York: Dutton, page 58:
      All the morn old Noah marvelled greatly
      At this weltering world that shone so stately,
      Drowning deep the rivers and the plains.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)



  1. Heavyweight. (of horsemen)
    a welter race
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Compare wilt (intransitive verb).


welter (third-person singular simple present welters, present participle weltering, simple past and past participle weltered)

  1. To wither; to wilt.
    • 1860, Isaac Taylor, Ultimate Civilization, and Other Essays, London: Bell & Dalday, “Ultimate Civilization,” Part I, IV, p. 40,[10]
      But look now into the weltered hearts and blighted memories of those whom we have gathered from out of the thousands of the lost and wretched.




Unadapted borrowing from English welter.


welter m (invariable)

  1. welter-weight
    Synonym: peso welter