[ stag-er ]
See synonyms for: staggerstaggeredstaggering on

verb (used without object)
  1. to walk, move, or stand unsteadily.

  2. to falter or begin to give way, as in an argument or fight.

  1. to waver or begin to doubt, as in purpose or opinion; hesitate: After staggering momentarily, he recognized that he had to make a decision.

verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to reel, totter, or become unsteady: This load would stagger an elephant.

  2. to shock; render helpless with amazement or the like; astonish: The vastness of outer space staggers the mind.

  1. to cause to waver or falter: The news staggered her belief in the triumph of justice.

  2. to arrange in a zigzag order or manner on either side of a center: The captain staggered the troops along the road.

  3. to arrange otherwise than at the same time, especially in a series of alternating or continually overlapping intervals: They planned to stagger lunch hours so that the cafeteria would not be rushed.

  4. Aeronautics. to arrange (the wings of a biplane or the like) so that the entering edge of an upper wing is either in advance of or behind that of a corresponding lower wing.

  1. the act of staggering; a reeling or tottering movement or motion.

  2. a staggered order or arrangement.

  1. Aeronautics.

    • a staggered arrangement of wings.

    • the amount of staggering.

  2. staggers. (used with a singular verb)Veterinary Pathology.

    • Also called blind staggers . acute selenium poisoning of livestock characterized by a staggering gait usually followed by respiratory failure and death.

    • a condition of unknown cause, occurring in pregnant sheep, cattle, and other animals during or just following extended transport, characterized by a staggering gait and progressive paralysis.

Origin of stagger

First recorded in 1520–30; earlier stacker “to reel,” Middle English stakeren, from Old Norse stakra “to reel,” equivalent to stak(a) “to stagger” + -ra frequentative suffix

synonym study For stagger

1. Stagger, reel, totter suggest an unsteady manner of walking. To stagger is successively to lose and regain one's equilibrium and the ability to maintain one's direction: to stagger with exhaustion, a heavy load, or intoxication. To reel is to sway dizzily and be in imminent danger of falling: to reel when faint with hunger. To totter is to move in a shaky, uncertain, faltering manner and suggests the immediate likelihood of falling from weakness or feebleness: An old man tottered along with a cane.

Other words for stagger

Other words from stagger

  • stag·ger·er, noun
  • out·stag·ger, verb (used with object)

Words Nearby stagger Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use stagger in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for stagger


/ (ˈstæɡə) /

  1. (usually intr) to walk or cause to walk unsteadily as if about to fall

  2. (tr) to astound or overwhelm, as with shock: I am staggered by his ruthlessness

  1. (tr) to place or arrange in alternating or overlapping positions or time periods to prevent confusion or congestion: a staggered junction; to stagger holidays

  2. (intr) to falter or hesitate: his courage staggered in the face of the battle

  3. (tr) to set (the wings of a biplane) so that the leading edge of one extends beyond that of the other

  1. the act or an instance of staggering

  2. a staggered arrangement on a biplane, etc

Origin of stagger

C13 dialect stacker, from Old Norse staka to push

Derived forms of stagger

  • staggerer, noun

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