stag·​ger | \ ˈsta-gər How to pronounce stagger (audio) \
staggered; staggering\ ˈsta-​g(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce stagger (audio) \

Definition of stagger

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to reel from side to side : totter
b : to move on unsteadily staggered toward the door
2 : to waver in purpose or action : hesitate
3 : to rock violently the ship staggered

transitive verb

1 : to cause to doubt or hesitate : perplex
2 : to cause to reel or totter
3 : to arrange in any of various zigzags, alternations, or overlappings of position or time stagger work shifts stagger teeth on a cutter



Definition of stagger (Entry 2 of 3)

1 staggers plural in form but singular or plural in construction : an abnormal condition of domestic animals associated with damage to the central nervous system and marked by incoordination and a reeling unsteady gait
2 : a reeling or unsteady gait or stance
3 : an arrangement in which the leading edge of the upper wing of a biplane is advanced over that of the lower



Definition of stagger (Entry 3 of 3)

: marked by an alternating or overlapping pattern

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Other Words from stagger


staggerer \ ˈsta-​gər-​ər How to pronounce stagger (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for stagger

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of stagger in a Sentence

Verb She staggered over to the sofa. A hard slap on the back staggered him. It staggers me to see how much money they've spent on this project. They staggered the runners' starting positions. Noun He walked with a slight stagger.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Adding a guy like Walker to stagger rotations would keep the offense clicking at all times. Nick Crain, Forbes, 5 July 2021 June bugs are clumsy drunks that run into your face, buzz a loud SORRY DUDE, stagger off, and either end up in your hair or down your shirt. Star Tribune, 11 June 2021 For example, with warm weather coming, consider holding a work function outdoors, or stagger the schedule of those working in the office. NBC News, 14 May 2021 The Patriots also will have to limit the number of players inside Gillette Stadium at one time and will stagger the players’ workouts., 9 Apr. 2021 Jo-ann Olsovsky, who leads’s internal IT department, has helped develop apps that enable employers to stagger work shifts and provide staff with daily health checks before entering a building, among other measures. Sara Castellanos, WSJ, 7 May 2021 Cosmic Nature in order to stagger visitors' arrivals and promote social distancing. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2021 Iran continues to stagger under U.S.-imposed economic sanctions and has breached the agreement by stepping up enrichment of uranium, and amassing stockpiles, which in sufficient quantity can be used to build nuclear bombs. Tracy Wilkinson Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2021 The prototype seemed to stagger under its 110-ton weight, despite a trio of engines—each producing half a million pounds of thrust—propelling it through the air. Joe Pappalardo, Science, 10 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Visits must be reserved online so that park management can manage attendance and stagger arrival times. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 11 Apr. 2021 Tickets are available for 2–3-hour sessions to limit capacity and stagger attendance. oregonlive, 28 Apr. 2021 Some places have had to remove desks, stagger scheduling and take other steps to keep children apart. Mike Stobbe,, 19 Mar. 2021 Some places have had to remove desks, stagger scheduling and take other steps to keep children apart. Mike Stobbe, Chron, 19 Mar. 2021 Some places have had to remove desks, stagger scheduling and take other steps to keep children apart. Erin Alberty, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Mar. 2021 Brewers fans will have to wait a day to see Jackie Bradley Jr. in the outfied, and Keston Hiura batting second enables a L-R stagger throughout against Minnesota RHP Kenta Maeda. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1 Apr. 2021 After Withers converted one of two free throws with 18.8 seconds left, the Retrievers ran a stagger set that freed junior shooting guard L.J. Owens for a 3-point attempt from the top of the key. Edward Lee,, 6 Mar. 2021 Stay six feet apart, stagger lunches and breaks, use Clorox wipes for stations. New York Times, 18 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Schools across the country had to remove desks and stagger schedules in order to meet that standard. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 22 Mar. 2021 The state also recommends businesses stagger workers’ schedules. Fortune, 8 June 2020 Schools across the nation are planning deep cleans as students stagger schedules to return to instruction. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 3 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stagger.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of stagger


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1918, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stagger


alteration of earlier stacker, from Middle English stakeren, from Old Norse stakra, frequentative of staka to push; perhaps akin to Old English staca stake — more at stake

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Time Traveler for stagger

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The first known use of stagger was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

12 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stagger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for stagger



English Language Learners Definition of stagger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move or cause (someone) to move unsteadily from side to side
: to shock or surprise (someone) very much
: to arrange (things) in a series of different positions or times



English Language Learners Definition of stagger (Entry 2 of 2)

: an unsteady movement while walking or standing


stag·​ger | \ ˈsta-gər How to pronounce stagger (audio) \
staggered; staggering

Kids Definition of stagger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move or cause to move unsteadily from side to side as if about to fall : reel He staggered under the load's weight.
2 : to cause or feel great surprise or shock The news staggered me.
3 : to arrange or be arranged in a zigzag but balanced way She stared at the dark brown and purple ridges staggered in the distance …— Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising



Kids Definition of stagger (Entry 2 of 2)

: a reeling or unsteady walk

More from Merriam-Webster on stagger

Nglish: Translation of stagger for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stagger for Arabic Speakers


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