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stagger

[stag-er] /ˈstæg ər/
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.
3.
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)
4.
to cause to reel, totter, or become unsteady:
This load would stagger an elephant.
5.
to shock; render helpless with amazement or the like; astonish:
The vastness of outer space staggers the mind.
6.
to cause to waver or falter:
The news staggered her belief in the triumph of justice.
7.
to arrange in a zigzag order or manner on either side of a center:
The captain staggered the troops along the road.
8.
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.
9.
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.
noun
10.
the act of staggering; a reeling or tottering movement or motion.
11.
a staggered order or arrangement.
12.
Aeronautics.
  1. a staggered arrangement of wings.
  2. the amount of staggering.
13.
staggers, (used with a singular verb) Veterinary Pathology.
  1. Also called blind staggers. acute selenium poisoning of livestock characterized by a staggering gait usually followed by respiratory failure and death.
  2. 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
1520-1530
1520-30; earlier stacker to reel, Middle English stakeren < Old Norse stakra to reel, equivalent to stak(a) to stagger + -ra frequentative suffix
Related forms
staggerer, noun
outstagger, verb (used with object)
unstaggered, adjective
Synonyms
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. 3. vacillate. 5. astound, confound, dumfound. 7. alternate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for stagger
  • It is no pretty sight watching a bully stagger and fall from his pulpit.
  • The government is alert to the danger and says it will do its best to stagger the pain.
  • Some animals are ingesting the pesticides by eating poisoned rats as the rats stagger about, dazed but not yet dead.
  • But it manages to stagger to its feet and stiffly walks down the ramp.
  • The stagger in his gait and pleading in his eyes said it all.
  • Great trucks thundered past, showering her with grit, and a fierce wind got up that made her stagger.
  • They smile, then stagger on at full speed, panting and pouring sweat.
  • Then they stagger off to get drunk and catch up on their sleep.
  • Nighttime revelers joke and laugh, calling loudly for taxis as they stagger in.
  • People who share this view-or merely exploit it-have succeeded in slowing reform to a fitful stagger.
British Dictionary definitions for stagger

stagger

/ˈstæɡə/
verb
1.
(usually intransitive) to walk or cause to walk unsteadily as if about to fall
2.
(transitive) to astound or overwhelm, as with shock: I am staggered by his ruthlessness
3.
(transitive) to place or arrange in alternating or overlapping positions or time periods to prevent confusion or congestion: a staggered junction, to stagger holidays
4.
(intransitive) to falter or hesitate: his courage staggered in the face of the battle
5.
(transitive) to set (the wings of a biplane) so that the leading edge of one extends beyond that of the other
noun
6.
the act or an instance of staggering
7.
a staggered arrangement on a biplane, etc
See also staggers
Derived Forms
staggerer, noun
Word Origin
C13 dialect stacker, from Old Norse staka to push
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
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Word Origin and History for stagger
v.

1520s, altered from stakeren (c.1300), from Old Norse stakra or Old Danish stagra, both "to push, stagger." Cognate with Dutch staggelen "to stagger," German staggeln "to stammer." Transitive sense of "bewilder, amaze" first recorded 1550s; that of "arrange in a zig-zag pattern" is from 1856. Related: Staggered; staggering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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