- any small top spun with the fingers.
- 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
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
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
- a spinning top bearing letters of the alphabet on its four sides
- such a top used as a die in gambling games
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