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totter

[tot-er] /ˈtɒt ər/
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
1150-1200; Middle English toteren to swing < ?
Related forms
totterer, noun
Synonyms
1. See stagger. 2. waver. 3. oscillate, quiver.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for totterer

totter

/ˈtɒtə/
verb (intransitive)
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
noun
4.
the act or an instance of tottering
Derived Forms
totterer, noun
tottering, adjective
totteringly, adverb
tottery, adjective
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for totterer

totter

v.

c.1200, "swing to and fro," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Norwegian totra "to quiver, shake"). Meaning "stand or walk with shaky, unsteady steps" is from c.1600. Related: Tottered; tottering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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