According to the site metro.co.uk, during a recent speech the British PM said:

Theresa May: "Our resolve will never waiver".

Though it is clear what she means by that sentence, "waiver" is generally used as a noun and most likely the term here is just a misspelling of "waver". Curiously the same mistake can be found in other sites like that of The Financial Times for instance:

But today we meet as normal – as generations have done before us, and as future generations will continue to do – to deliver a simple message: we are not afraid. And our resolve will never waiver in the face of terrorism.

As clearly stated here in the Grammarist waiver is a noun, while waver is a verb, and actually, the only source I could find that mentions "waiver" as a verb is the AHD:

To waiver: (waivered, waivering, waivers):

  • To provide with a waiver or issue a waiver for.

And Wiktionaryoffers a usage example suggesting that it means to waive:

To waiver (transitive) To waive.

US Department of Defense, ‎AR 195-3 04/22/1987 Acceptance, Accreditation, and Release of United States Army Criminal Investigation Command Personnel.

  • The USACIDC Accreditation Division will conduct an annual reconciliation of the individual's academic achievement, through his or her unit commander, until he or she meets the waivered civilian education requirement.


Is the the usage of verb "waiver" in the British Press just a misspelling or a new idiomatic usage of the term?

Is waiver a common verb in AmE?

  • 3
    Treat it as a typo.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 23, 2017 at 13:52
  • 1
    @Lawrence - a very common one, apparently.
    – user66974
    Mar 23, 2017 at 13:53
  • 4
    Am I to take it that your spelling of financial The Finalcial Times is also a spelling variation or a typo? Journalists are people, and copy editors are an exinct species, typos will become increasingly apparent as fewer and fewer journalists will have the care or time to proofread their articles. i think this is the first time, I've ever DV a question of yours. You're just grasping at straws.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 23, 2017 at 13:58
  • 1
    @PeterShor Yew mister phew. Hear sum ore.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 23, 2017 at 14:03
  • 3
    And how exactly does that AHD definition fit with the British PM's message? It doesn't. There's no such thing as spelling in speech, and the PM did not release a statement, blame the Metro reporter for careless writing, waver, and waiver sound identical, but are spelt differently and mean different things, no spellchecker (that I know of) can catch out that type of venial error.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 23, 2017 at 14:08

2 Answers 2


As of today, 29/03/2017, there are nearly 23,000 results for "never waver" "Theresa May" On March 23 when I took this screenshot there were "just" 1,020 results.

enter image description here

And there are 197 results on Google News for "not waver" "Theresa May", a number of them are from American newspapers and websites too.

  1. Theresa May Says Britain "Will Not Waver In The Face Of Terrorism" (March 23, 2017) Buzzfeed (US)

  2. "We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism," May said. CNBC (US)

  3. Speaking at the conference, she said: “This Government will not waver in its commitment to put the interests of the British people first.” (5 October 2016) The Independent (UK)

  4. On Tuesday, South Korea said Mr Trump’s comments on North Korea show he is aware of the urgency of the threat posed by its nuclear programme and will not waver from a policy of sanctions against the isolated country. (Jan 3, 2017) The Irish Times

  5. Clearly, she needed time to compose herself. She made no appearances overnight, instead calling Donald J. Trump to concede. But when she strode onstage in purple and gray, Bill Clinton behind her in a purple tie, her voice did not waver. The New York Times (US)

That's not to say the spelling error does not exist, the orthographical slip up seems to be gaining territory, and will continue to do so because newspapers can no longer afford the luxury of hiring the necessary numbers of copy editors, or spend/waste precious time proofreading articles, those days are far behind us.

Google News reports 29 results for "not waiver" "Theresa May"

  1. They say they want to ensure that May does not “waiver” when it comes to re-asserting the UK’s commitment to equal rights when she meets the new president.
    23 January 2017 The Guardian

  2. "Europe should not waiver on its principles to have peace in its relations with our British friends. Europe is Europe, and if you want to be part of the main achievement, the internal market, everyone including the British must respect the rules."
    Nov 8, 2016 Rueters (UK)

  3. 'We lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena. We go at it. We try even harder the next time,' he [Barack Obama] said. 'The point, though, is, is that we all go forward, with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens.' He said Monday that Democrats 'should not waiver' in their 'core beliefs and principles.'
    14 November 2016 The Mail Online

Oxford Dictionaries has a footnote in its entry for waive (verb)


  • Waive is sometimes confused with wave.
  • Waive means ‘refrain from insisting on or demanding’, as in he will waive all rights to the money or her fees would be waived, whereas the much more common word wave means ‘move to and fro’.

  • A waiver is a document recording that a right or claim has been waived, whereas to waver is to move in a quivering way or be undecided between two alternatives

The American English corpus, examined by Google Ngram, agrees that waiver is rarely used as a verb, wavered (red line) dramatically surpasses waivered (blue line). And in those extremely rare instances, waivered functions as an adjective rather than a verb e.g. Clients were asked for contributions to help defray the costs for those waivered services which would otherwise have to be self-paid in their entirety. source

enter image description here

  • Any idea if the verb is an AmE thing?
    – user66974
    Mar 23, 2017 at 15:05
  • 1
    @Josh no idea, someone else can post an answer to that. I have always heard it as "waive", to waive your rights, to waive a fee, etc.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 23, 2017 at 15:13
  • An adjective that looks very much like a pp. Nice research btw.
    – user66974
    Mar 23, 2017 at 19:33
  • A brainless VTC has finally been cast!!!
    – user66974
    Mar 23, 2017 at 23:08
  • @Josh keep calm it's only one VTC
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 23, 2017 at 23:20

There is no doubt that the verb the Prime Minister was calling into use was waver, not waiver. The typo may indeed have been caused by a spell-checker (I find they are often more trouble than they are worth).

The OED has many senses of the verb waver which relate to Mrs May's words. One of them is 5a.

5a. Of persons, their sentiments, etc.: To exhibit doubt or indecision; to change or vary; to fluctuate or vacillate (between); to falter in resolution or allegiance; to show signs of giving way.

Examples exist from the fourteenth century. More modern ones are:

1874 J. R. Green Short Hist. Eng. People iv. §2. 172 Only on one occasion..did the burgesses waver from their general support of the Crown.

1883 J. A. Froude Short Stud. IV. i. xi. 131 Many people had begun to waver in their allegiance.

1884 M. Creighton Hist. Ess. (1902) viii. 239 For a time opinions wavered which boundary to choose.

  • Does the OED say anything about the verb "to waiver"?
    – user66974
    Mar 23, 2017 at 19:22
  • 1
    @Josh "Waiver" is not listed as a verb in the OED, only as a noun. There is though, of course, an entry for the verb "to waive". It's etymology is from the Old French "gaiver", "guesver". "Wave", on the other hand, is quite different in origin, from the Old English "wafian", compared to the Middle High German "waben" (OED).
    – WS2
    Mar 24, 2017 at 1:05

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