Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

The Best Internet Slang

tottering

[tot-er-ing] /ˈtɒt ər ɪŋ/
adjective
1.
walking unsteadily or shakily.
2.
lacking security or stability; threatening to collapse; precarious:
a tottering empire.
Origin of tottering
Related forms
totteringly, adverb
untottering, adjective

totter

[tot-er] /ˈtɒt ər/
verb (used without object)
1.
to walk or go with faltering steps, as if from extreme weakness.
2.
to sway or rock on the base or ground, as if about to fall:
The tower seemed to totter in the wind. The government was tottering.
3.
to shake or tremble:
a load that tottered.
noun
4.
the act of tottering; an unsteady movement or gait.
Origin
1150-1200; Middle English toteren to swing < ?
Related forms
totterer, noun
Synonyms
1. See stagger. 2. waver. 3. oscillate, quiver.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for tottering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Our Union is tottering to its foundation, and slavery is the cause.

  • I went downstairs trembling, tottering, and my teeth chattering.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • It had taken this news from the harbor to bring him tottering, crashing down.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • He was not about to throw himself headlong from the summit of the tottering wall.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • The commercial and moral fabric of European civilization is tottering.

    The Paper Moneys of Europe Francis W. Hirst
British Dictionary definitions for tottering

totter

/ˈtɒtə/
verb (intransitive)
1.
to walk or move in an unsteady manner, as from old age
2.
to sway or shake as if about to fall
3.
to be failing, unstable, or precarious
noun
4.
the act or an instance of tottering
Derived Forms
totterer, noun
tottering, adjective
totteringly, adverb
tottery, adjective
Word Origin
C12: perhaps from Old English tealtrian to waver, and Middle Dutch touteren to stagger
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for tottering

totter

v.

c.1200, "swing to and fro," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Norwegian totra "to quiver, shake"). Meaning "stand or walk with shaky, unsteady steps" is from c.1600. Related: Tottered; tottering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for tottering

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for tottering

10
12
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for tottering