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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Volunteering at a nearby food bank over recent months, Silvestrini’s duty has been to stagger vehicles in a drive-thru line to collect food. Tony Semerad, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Sep. 2022 In the late stages of the disease, deer might stagger, drool excessively and, again, show little to no fear of humans, the department states. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, 24 Aug. 2022 In a peculiar turn of events, Apple will reportedly stagger the launches of its new phone and tablet operating system updates this fall. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 3 Aug. 2022 He’s one of many stepping up to help districts combat a driver shortage that’s forced some to stagger school times so more routes can be covered. Carole Carlson, Chicago Tribune, 15 July 2022 The two could stagger minutes in the rotation, but Pearl hasn’t ruled out the possibility of Traore and Broome playing alongside each other up front. Tom Green |, al, 6 May 2022 Stack your feet or stagger them for easier balance. Hayden Carpenter, Outside Online, 6 Apr. 2020 But the disruptor that once dethroned Blockbuster and other bricks-and-mortar video stores years ago has continued to stagger. Melissa Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2022 Extend your legs, and stagger your feet heel to toe. Hayden Carpenter, Outside Online, 20 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The optimism surrounding the 23-year-old Bello is widely shared throughout the organization, a glimmer of hope in an uncomfortable stagger toward the 2022 finish line. Alex Speier,, 19 Sep. 2022 Transportation is also a major factor for schools – but even more so in districts that stagger start times so schools can share buses. Ali Martin, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 Aug. 2022 But a collective outage from what has typically been a remarkably consistent group at the top of the order has contributed to the Sox’ 5-7 stagger through the first two weeks of August. Alex Speier,, 14 Aug. 2022 Young people, many drinking alcohol, roam the boardwalk, stagger in and out of rental houses, crowd hotel balconies. Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post, 28 May 2022 The guides dump our bags, collect the last of our pesos, and rush away as the rest of the group stagger in. Jason Motlagh, Outside Online, 19 July 2016 Again, stagger plantings every five days or so, but also harvest properly: use scissors and cut the leaves rather than pull the plant. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, 26 May 2022 The Sport gets a square 245/45R-18 tire setup, while the Performance has a 255/40R-19 front and 275/35R-19 rear stagger. Dan Edmunds, Car and Driver, 16 May 2022 In the 200, in the beginning, Paffumi said that Johnson didn't understand how the stagger worked. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 13 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Skokie elects all its trustees every four years, while most suburbs in the area stagger their trustee elections, electing some of their village board members every two years. Brian L. Cox, Chicago Tribune, 12 Sep. 2022 Most suburbs in the area stagger their trustee elections, electing some of their village board members every two years. Brian L. Cox, Chicago Tribune, 8 Aug. 2022 In Seaside and Cannon Beach, lifeguards blow their whistles and stagger down the shoreline to call people in from the water. Bruce Barcott, Outside Online, 25 Aug. 2011 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 See More

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.

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

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stagger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for stagger


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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