stagger

1 of 3

verb

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

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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
staggerer noun

stagger

2 of 3

noun

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

stagger

3 of 3

adjective

: marked by an alternating or overlapping pattern

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Watering down its original blueprint, the government said a car tax exemption for farming vehicles would be retained and cuts in diesel tax breaks would be staggered over three years. Sophie Tanno, CNN, 3 Feb. 2024 How come Self doesn’t stagger HD and KJ’s minutes a bit so that KJ can exploit mismatches at center like last year and HD could get spacing in a 4-out offense? Shreyas Laddha, Kansas City Star, 26 Jan. 2024 Facing the November deadline, House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, made the unusual decision to stagger the expiration dates of federal funding. Caitlin Yilek, CBS News, 8 Jan. 2024 Cronin said the offense staggered because of a lack of ball movement and tempo. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 10 Dec. 2023 Cyclists and mountain bikers train on steep stretches along peaks staggering nearly 9,800 feet high (Andorra hosts the Mountain Bike World Cup in summers), some of which double as ski slopes and snowshoe paths in winter. Lane Nieset, Vogue, 14 Nov. 2023 The days of absence are staggered so its office hours remain the same as before the trial. Ryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 19 Dec. 2023 His enemies — the Soviets, the North Vietnamese, the Democrats, his liberal critics — were staggered. David E. Sanger, New York Times, 30 Nov. 2023 Instead, Johnson staggered government funding deadlines at the current spending levels, and the new agreement would continue those levels — a rate of spending that led conservatives to oust McCarty. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, 7 Jan. 2024
Noun
Jackson made up the stagger around the curb quickly and proceeded to sprint away from the competition in a dominant 200-meter performance. Tyler Dragon, USA TODAY, 28 Aug. 2023 The migrants who do stagger in often have slashes from the razor wire and are confused over the shifting policy changes. Rick Jervis, USA TODAY, 17 July 2023 Internal 45 with Side Stretch From your internal stagger position, drop the hand weights and stretch your back leg. Stefani Sassos, Ms, Rdn, Cso, Cdn, Nasm-Cpt, Good Housekeeping, 22 July 2021 Union Gospel Mission, like other organizations, has pivoted in the pandemic to add extra cleanings, require COVID tests, stagger dining times to maintain social distancing, reduce child care spots and separate groups of people in the emergency shelter. Kelly Smith, Star Tribune, 6 Oct. 2020 Stir in a trip to last season’s NLCS after knocking off the Mets and Dodgers, a pair of 100-game winners, and the scale and scope of the franchise’s fresh reality staggers. Bryce Millercolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Feb. 2023 To stagger, roll or tip abruptly. Celia Storey, Arkansas Online, 31 Oct. 2022 Champions stagger and turrets crumble. Los Angeles Times, 31 Oct. 2022 Each enemy has two bars, health and stagger. Brittany Vincent, BGR, 25 Oct. 2021
Adjective
For best coverage, stagger sandbags in an overlapping pattern like brickwork. Check around windows and doors. Debbie Arrington, Sacramento Bee, 31 Jan. 2024 Shane McGowan’s torrid and mighty voice is mud and roses punched out with swaggering stagger, ancient longing that is blasted all to hell. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 4 Dec. 2023 Like postgame tailgates, that would help stagger departures. Kirk Kenney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Aug. 2023 The final Phoenix ability, for examples, burns nearby foes multiple times and restores Clive’s health, while one of Garuda’s abilities deals less damage and greatly reduces a foe’s stagger gauge, leaving them vulnerable to stronger attacks. Josh Broadwell, Variety, 21 June 2023 To do that, make sure your planters evenly flank the front door (if your door is in a corner, stagger planters out to the open side of the door), creating a funnel towards it. Maggie Burch, Southern Living, 12 June 2023 The changes would reduce license application workloads and give hospitals more flexibility to stagger reapplication dates, the Wisconsin Hospitals Association told lawmakers last month. Tyler Katzenberger, Journal Sentinel, 7 June 2023 Any deep closers with something left in the tank will try to pick up the pieces as tired horses stagger home. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 5 May 2023 This feels very similar to the stagger system in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Michael Higham, Ars Technica, 28 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'stagger.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1918, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near stagger

Cite this Entry

“Stagger.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stagger. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

stagger

1 of 2 verb
stag·​ger ˈstag-ər How to pronounce stagger (audio)
staggered; staggering -(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce stagger (audio)
1
: to move or cause to move unsteadily from side to side as if about to fall
2
a
: to begin to doubt and waver : become less confident
b
: to cause to doubt, waver, or hesitate : overwhelm
were staggered by the problems they had to face
3
: to place or arrange in a zigzag or alternate but regular way
staggerer noun

stagger

2 of 2 noun
1
plural : an abnormal condition of domestic animals associated with damage to the central nervous system and marked by unsteady movements and falling
2
: a reeling or unsteady gait or stance

More from Merriam-Webster on stagger

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