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teetotum

[tee-toh-tuh m]
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noun
  1. any small top spun with the fingers.
  2. a kind of die having four sides, each marked with a different initial letter, spun with the fingers in an old game of chance.

Origin of teetotum

1710–20; earlier T totum, alteration of totum name of toy (< Latin tōtum, neuter of tōtus all) by prefixing its initial letter, which appeared on one side of the toy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for teetotum

Historical Examples

  • All this Rainey saw as he circled, while the mass whirled like a teetotum.

    A Man to His Mate

    J. Allan Dunn

  • I have already apologized for treating you like a teetotum, on a former occasion.

    The Fallen Leaves

    Wilkie Collins

  • In Polynesia the coco-nut is spun like a teetotum to discover a thief.

  • The compass-card spun round like a teetotum, whirling faster and faster.

  • However, I could not augur ill of one who laughed so heartily, nor of the other, who seemed so happy in making himself a teetotum.

    Rattlin the Reefer

    Edward Howard


British Dictionary definitions for teetotum

teetotum

noun archaic
  1. a spinning top bearing letters of the alphabet on its four sides
  2. such a top used as a die in gambling games

Word Origin

C18: from T totum, from T initial inscribed on one of the faces + totum the name of the toy, from Latin tōtum the whole
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012