totter

[tot-er]
verb (used without object)
1.
to walk or go with faltering steps, as if from extreme weakness.
2.
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.
3.
to shake or tremble: a load that tottered.
noun
4.
the act of tottering; an unsteady movement or gait.

Origin:
1150–1200; Middle English toteren to swing < ?

totterer, noun


1. See stagger. 2. waver. 3. oscillate, quiver.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
totter (ˈtɒtə)
 
vb
1.  to walk or move in an unsteady manner, as from old age
2.  to sway or shake as if about to fall
3.  to be failing, unstable, or precarious
 
n
4.  the act or an instance of tottering
 
[C12: perhaps from Old English tealtrian to waver, and Middle Dutch touteren to stagger]
 
'totterer
 
n
 
'tottering
 
adj
 
'totteringly
 
adv
 
'tottery
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

totter
c.1200, "swing to and fro," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Norw. totra "to quiver, shake"). Meaning "stand or walk with shaky, unsteady steps" is from c.1600.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Meerkat pups start to play as soon as they can totter about the burrow.
The ants totter around until a bird picks them off, continuing the cycle.
One broke an arm falling off a bed, the other broke his on a teeter totter.
How easily, he reminds readers, stable-looking societies can totter.
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