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

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Synonyms for totter

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of totter in a Sentence

Verb The child tottered across the room. He tottered away to bed.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Everyone grabs for their tottering beverages, trying desperately to prevent spritzes and garnishes and straws (paper, natch) from making contact with summer whites. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, "This 20-Cent Wedge of Plastic Will Make You a Restaurant Hero," 26 Aug. 2019 Behind him, his son and grandson tottered along, hand in hand. Azam Ahmed, New York Times, "Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out.," 18 Aug. 2019 But when the end of the economic cycle comes, investors should expect big losses even if banks don’t totter. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "No Lehman Repeat, but a Great Opportunity to Lose Money Is Coming Anyway," 13 Sep. 2018 The story's multiple New York locations all emerge from set designer Stephen Gifford's clever evocation of Bialystock's office, which is hemmed in by tottering towers of metal file cabinets, stuffed to bursting with paper. Daryl H. Miller,, "Review: Small theaters think big with ‘Ragtime’ at the Chance and ‘The Producers’ at Celebration," 11 July 2019 The twin turbines of a Dornier 228 cargo plane roar to life as the bulging khaki figures totter single file up through the side door and into the plane’s belly, which is packed with pallets of firefighting equipment that will be dropped with them. Mark Jenkins, National Geographic, "When wildfires break out, this elite team of ‘smokejumpers’ parachute in," 12 June 2019 The $500,000 production ($3 million today) grossed $13 million ($80 million now) and was one of only three profitable films the financially tottering MGM made that year. Bill Higgins, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood Flashback: 'Shaft' Ignited a Blaxploitation Movie Craze in 1971," 8 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Their idea finally came to life at an event Monday in Sunland Park, New Mexico, when three bright pink seesaws or teeter-totters were added to the giant steel border wall. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, "California professors install seesaws along U.S.-Mexico border wall," 30 July 2019 The fire damaged an X-Wave teeter-totter and Ring Trek equipment, Stenehjem said. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Teen arrested in playground fire at East Anchorage elementary school that caused $100,000 in damage," 27 July 2019 There will also be a 4-foot grade change that will include hill slides and hill play, two 12-foot towers with climbing features and tunnel slides, an at-grade spinner, accessible teeter-totter, accessible zip line, swing set and a toddler playhouse. Cathy Kozlowicz, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After 10 years of planning, a new playground, pavilion and splash pad in Sussex are breaking ground," 17 July 2019 Lee’s most memorable speech bubbles totter on the edge between speech, poetry, and outright doggerel. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "The larger-than-life huckster dialogue of Stan Lee," 13 Nov. 2018 Built in the atrium of the Hangzhou Star Avenue Mall, the Neobio Family Park makes the teeter-totters and merry-go-rounds of the past feel like ancient toys. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Feast your eyes on this next-level indoor park," 14 Aug. 2018 Instead of stitching the hipbelt to the back panel, Kelty feeds it behind the lumbar pad and allows it a few millimeters of movement, as if each wing of the hipbelt were a playground teeter-totter. Kelly Bastone, Outside Online, "The Best Women’s Backpacking Packs," 13 July 2018 The bow teeter-totters delicately over two large industrial light bulbs planted in a crude wooden bowl. Joseph Giovannini, New York Times, "Swiss Institute Has a New Home Ready-Made for Art," 28 June 2018 Image Bit totters on perilously high leopard-print heels, and sports a pink wig and mismatched clothes. New York Times, "Review: More Than the Couples Are Odd in ‘The Hollower’," 25 May 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for totter

Last Updated

21 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for totter

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

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More Definitions for totter


How to pronounce totter (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on totter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for totter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with totter

Spanish Central: Translation of totter

Nglish: Translation of totter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of totter for Arabic Speakers

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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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