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tottering

[tot-er-ing] /ˈtɒt ər ɪŋ/
adjective
1.
walking unsteadily or shakily.
2.
lacking security or stability; threatening to collapse; precarious:
a tottering empire.
Origin of tottering
Related forms
totteringly, adverb
untottering, adjective

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; 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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tottering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Locomotion becomes feeble and tottering, the voice harsh, the intellect obtuse and powerless, and all the senses blunted.

    Select Temperance Tracts American Tract Society
  • Our Union is tottering to its foundation, and slavery is the cause.

  • The golden bars, run out roughly at the mine, represented to Hardin the anchor of his tottering credit.

    The Little Lady of Lagunitas Richard Henry Savage
  • I went downstairs trembling, tottering, and my teeth chattering.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • When the dawn was creeping ghostlike into the room and the night-light was tottering in its saucer, Essie stirred and woke.

    The Romance of His Life Mary Cholmondeley
British Dictionary definitions for tottering

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 tottering

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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