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[stag-uh-ring] /ˈstæg ə rɪŋ/
tending to stagger or overwhelm:
a staggering amount of money required in the initial investment.
Origin of staggering
1555-65; stagger + -ing2
Related forms
staggeringly, adverb
unstaggering, adjective


[stag-er] /ˈstæg ər/
verb (used without object)
to walk, move, or stand unsteadily.
to falter or begin to give way, as in an argument or fight.
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)
to cause to reel, totter, or become unsteady:
This load would stagger an elephant.
to shock; render helpless with amazement or the like; astonish:
The vastness of outer space staggers the mind.
to cause to waver or falter:
The news staggered her belief in the triumph of justice.
to arrange in a zigzag order or manner on either side of a center:
The captain staggered the troops along the road.
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.
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.
the act of staggering; a reeling or tottering movement or motion.
a staggered order or arrangement.
  1. a staggered arrangement of wings.
  2. the amount of staggering.
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.
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
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for staggering
  • We see staggering corruption everywhere, with lots of talk and absolutely zero accountability for the perpetrators.
  • The improvement in emerging-markets' reputation has been staggering.
  • Moose are at home in the water and, despite their staggering bulk, are good swimmers.
  • Every story of autoimmune disease is sad--but collectively the impact of these illnesses is staggering.
  • Money spent on research and development at pharmaceutical companies has increased at a staggering rate.
  • And it shows teenagers staggering under the two-ton weight of expectations- their parents' as well as their own.
  • The pace of development since peace returned eight years ago has been staggering.
  • Hurricanes are enormous heat engines that generate energy on a staggering scale.
  • There was nothing particularly new, but it was staggering to see it all brought together.
  • Not once do you try to account for the staggering costs of what it will and does cost humanity to do nothing.
British Dictionary definitions for staggering


astounding or overwhelming; shocking: a staggering increase in demand
Derived Forms
staggeringly, adverb


(usually intransitive) to walk or cause to walk unsteadily as if about to fall
(transitive) to astound or overwhelm, as with shock: I am staggered by his ruthlessness
(transitive) to place or arrange in alternating or overlapping positions or time periods to prevent confusion or congestion: a staggered junction, to stagger holidays
(intransitive) to falter or hesitate: his courage staggered in the face of the battle
(transitive) to set (the wings of a biplane) so that the leading edge of one extends beyond that of the other
the act or an instance of staggering
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 staggering

"amazing," 1560s, from present participle of stagger (v.). Related: Staggeringly.



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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