stagger

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

stagger

noun

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

stagger

adjective

Definition of stagger (Entry 3 of 3)

: marked by an alternating or overlapping pattern

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Other Words from stagger

Verb

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

Synonyms for stagger

Synonyms: Verb

careen, dodder, lurch, reel, teeter, totter, waddle

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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

But the debts that many physicians leave school with are staggering: The median is $190,000. Dylan Scott, Vox, "NYU might have solved one of single-payer’s big challenges," 20 Aug. 2018 The figures were staggering: $9.62 billion in sales for 2017 with 11 percent growth from the previous year and operating profits of $2.69 billion. Jessica Iredale, Town & Country, "Virginie Viard, Karl Lagerfeld's Secret Weapon, Succeeds Him at Chanel," 19 Feb. 2019 Though the Belgian attacker did hit the winner as his side beat Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup final, the Blues staggered to a disappointing fifth place finish in the Premier League. SI.com, "Real Madrid Shortlist Superstar Attacking Trio as Question Marks Remain Over Future of Gareth Bale," 30 May 2018 The teacher in her is staggered by the lack of actual pedagogy that takes place in studio classes. Kathleen Hirsch, BostonGlobe.com, "A portrait of the artist as an older woman," 29 June 2018 At the end of the night, the audience rose to its feet slowly, staggered by the sound echoing through the Synagogue’s halls. New York Times, "For Experimental Jazz Group Onyx Collective, the Only Rule Is ‘No Rules’," 15 June 2018 Take, for example, the tournament format, where a team's games are staggered every few hours over the course of a weekend. George Ramsay, CNN, "Mind game: When rugby stars are 'too nervous to take the field'," 1 June 2018 The three are staggered at different heights to convey the way a single hat would float to Earth after being tossed at a rodeo, fitting because Salinas is home to the California Rodeo Salinas, July 19-22 this year. Mary Forgione, latimes.com, "Yeah, there's a giant bunny in that vineyard — no foolin' — and 9 animals, vegetables and antlers you'll want to stop and see," 1 Apr. 2018 Seats are staggered in a 1-2-1 configuration that ensures each customer has direct access to the aisle. Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY, "Singapore Airlines unveils new cabin interior for Boeing 787-10 'Dreamliner'," 27 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His mother said the family is aware of the smattering of crass fans who use social media to badger college kids when expectations not of their own making stagger. Bryce Miller, sandiegouniontribune.com, "It's Trey's time as Kell-led Aztecs fight into NCAA field," 13 Mar. 2018 Critics say his abandoning of the TPP was a colossal error; the countries that the Obama administration rallied behind the most ambitious trade deal in history stagger along without U.S. leadership. Andrew Browne, WSJ, "Trump’s New National-Security Policy: Paper Tiger or Hidden Dragon?," 19 Dec. 2017 As the Orioles stagger to the end of the season, there's speculation that manager Buck Showalter might shut down Bundy, who's now at a career-high 1692/3 innings. David Ginsburg, courant.com, "Benintendi's 2-Run Single In 11th Lifts Red Sox Past Orioles," 19 Sep. 2017 A concerned Shaw watched Meyer, dazed and bleeding from scrapes, stagger to his feet. Gary D'amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "D'Amato: Carl Meyer keeps swinging, and swinging, for veterans," 4 July 2017 The clumsy stagger-step between every action is a pain, but it’s basically all there is to Valkyria Revolution’s combat. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Valkyria Revolution trades in cult-classic status for wasted promise," 27 June 2017 And now the Celtics stagger forward without their leading scorer and best playmaker into Quicken Loans Arena to take on the Cavs, who throttled them twice in Boston and have won 13 straight postseason games. Tom Withers, courant.com, "Bradley Hits Last-second Shot, Celtics Stun Cavs, 111-108," 21 May 2017 The Celtics didn't always use a stagger screen to elicit the switch. Adi Joseph, USA TODAY, "Wizards keep allowing Isaiah to torch Morris," 4 May 2017

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

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

History and Etymology for stagger

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

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Statistics for stagger

Last Updated

11 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stagger

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

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More Definitions for stagger

stagger

verb

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

stagger

noun

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

: an unsteady movement while walking or standing

stagger

verb
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

stagger

noun

Kids Definition of stagger (Entry 2 of 2)

: a reeling or unsteady walk

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More from Merriam-Webster on stagger

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stagger

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stagger

Spanish Central: Translation of stagger

Nglish: Translation of stagger for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stagger for Arabic Speakers

Comments on stagger

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