[ tot-er-ing ]
/ ˈtɒt ər ɪŋ /


walking unsteadily or shakily.
lacking security or stability; threatening to collapse; precarious: a tottering empire.

Origin of tottering

Related forms

tot·ter·ing·ly, adverbun·tot·ter·ing, adjective

Definition for tottering (2 of 2)


[ tot-er ]
/ ˈtɒt ər /

verb (used without object)

to walk or go with faltering steps, as if from extreme weakness.
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.
to shake or tremble: a load that tottered.


the act of tottering; an unsteady movement or gait.

Origin of totter

1150–1200; Middle English toteren to swing < ?


1 See stagger.
2 waver.
3 oscillate, quiver.

Related forms

tot·ter·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tottering

British Dictionary definitions for tottering


/ (ˈtɒtə) /

verb (intr)

to walk or move in an unsteady manner, as from old age
to sway or shake as if about to fall
to be failing, unstable, or precarious


the act or an instance of tottering

Derived Forms

totterer, nountottering, adjectivetotteringly, adverbtottery, adjective

Word Origin for totter

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