tot·​ter | \ ˈtä-tər How to pronounce totter (audio) \
tottered; tottering; totters

Definition of totter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move unsteadily : stagger, wobble
2a : to tremble or rock as if about to fall : sway
b : to become unstable : threaten to collapse



Definition of totter (Entry 2 of 2)

: an unsteady gait : wobble

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for totter

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of totter in a Sentence

Verb The child tottered across the room. He tottered away to bed.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Good talent comes and goes, the Blue Jackets totter on, and the Tortorella method never changes. Kevin Paul Dupont,, "NHL’s division-only format results in tunnel vision," 13 Feb. 2021 Ubers didn’t pull up to the Kirkwood bars to pick up girls tottering on high heels. Christine Fernando, Indianapolis Star, "Stunned by coronavirus, a college town slowly awakens to a surreal new normal," 11 Apr. 2020 Someone posts a video of their infant tottering around to music from a favorite toy; someone else replies with a seven-second loop of Theresa May, the former British prime minster, dancing jerkily during a state visit to Nairobi. Laurence Scott, Wired, "GIFs Are Glorious, GIFs Are Perverse," 2 Mar. 2020 The real estate sector, which usually pulls the economy, has been tottering since the demonetisation of Nov. 2016. S. Gopikrishna Warrier, Quartz India, "Like unchecked growth, economic decline too can have environmental fallouts in India," 20 Jan. 2020 The Tigers tottered into deadline week 10 games under .500 and going nowhere fast. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers: Solving the greatest 'What ifs' of the 2010s," 31 Dec. 2019 In soft-edged illustrations, Sue Cornelison depicts one baby palooza after another: toddlers on yoga mats interacting with friendly animals; babies scooting on their bottoms and tottering around upright. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: First Days and First Bites," 19 Apr. 2019 Lawrence and Season Lee were marching on a highway with their 3-year-old daughter, who tottered along in pink galoshes. Austin Ramzy,, "Hundreds of thousands march in Hong Kong in latest rally," 18 Aug. 2019 Lawrence and Season Lee were marching on a highway with their 3-year-old daughter, who tottered along in pink galoshes. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "Hong Kong Protesters Defy Police Ban in Show of Strength After Tumult," 18 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The most stable place on a teeter-totter is in the middle. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Jan. 12, 2021: Happy birthday Issa Rae; Scorpio, don’t take sides," 12 Jan. 2021 This effectively eliminates the very need for the teeter-totter itself. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: The election, the pandemic, climate change, Minneapolis housing, University of Minnesota sports," 2 Oct. 2020 Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at New York University who began researching work-life integration around the same time as Friedman, agrees that a work-life convergence is healthier than trying to stabilize a precarious teeter-totter. Leigh Giangreco, Washington Post, "At work while at home: The new paradigm," 14 Oct. 2020 The survival of the teeter-totter of our democracy is very much in the balance. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: The election, the pandemic, climate change, Minneapolis housing, University of Minnesota sports," 2 Oct. 2020 No, this episode was just a perfect encapsulation of the everyday frenetic energy with which these women sprint (and somehow simultaneously totter) through life. Jodi Walker,, "The Real Housewives of New York City recap: A prancing pimp in pajamas," 1 May 2020 Anyone who's anyone has been asked to help reopen California and rebuild an economy some experts say totters toward a depression. Arlene Martinez, USA TODAY, "In CA: A Who's Who of Golden State leaders will help reopen California," 18 Apr. 2020 When Cvechko told the children to come to the car, Kambria unknowingly walked across the pit’s lid, which flipped like a teeter-totter, sending her through the narrow opening. Washington Post, "Girl’s fall into grease pit prompts effort to toughen fines," 4 Feb. 2020 At 123 feet long, the teeter-totter is big enough to hold several people at a time. Jay Jones,, "Big things happening in Casey: Guinness World Records headed to Illinois town full of oversized objects," 26 Sep. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of totter


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


1709, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for totter


Middle English toteren

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about totter

Time Traveler for totter

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for totter

Cite this Entry

“Totter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for totter



English Language Learners Definition of totter

: to move or walk in a slow and unsteady way
: to become weak and likely to fail or collapse


tot·​ter | \ ˈtä-tər How to pronounce totter (audio) \
tottered; tottering

Kids Definition of totter

1 : to sway or rock as if about to fall
2 : to move unsteadily : stagger

Comments on totter

What made you want to look up totter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!