Definition of stagger in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈstaɡər/


1 [no object] Walk or move unsteadily, as if about to fall: he staggered to his feet, swaying a little
More example sentences
  • They fall into taxis or stagger happily on down to the Nitelink bus and sing all the way home.
  • Adam withdrew his hand and stepped back and clenched his fist and as Joe sprung at him he threw a punch that sent Joe staggering backwards and falling back into the dirt.
  • I cried out in pain, staggering back and falling on my back to the ground.
lurch, walk unsteadily, reel, sway, teeter, totter, stumble, wobble
1.1 [with adverbial of direction] Continue in existence or operation uncertainly or precariously: the council staggered from one crisis to the next
More example sentences
  • Global markets continue to stagger from one perceived crisis to the next.
  • A succession of weak Prime Ministers and lack-lustre governments saw the country stagger from bad to worse.
  • And most importantly, letting the treaty stagger on along a Via Dolorosa of months of rejection is dangerous.
1.2 archaic Waver in purpose; hesitate.
1.3 [with object] archaic (Of a blow) cause (someone) to walk or move unsteadily, as if about to fall: the collision staggered her and she fell
More example sentences
  • These rather horrified thoughts flew into my head at just about the moment that his own uppercut staggered me back and into the wall.
  • Ryu's world exploded into stars as the blow connected with the side of his head, staggering him.
  • Kanyanta could have knocked out his opponent but Hara stood his ground even after being decked by hard blows to the head that only staggered him.
2 [with object] Astonish or deeply shock: I was staggered to find it was six o’clock (as adjective staggering) the staggering bills for maintenance and repair
More example sentences
  • Wilson is determined to stun and stagger us with the knowledge of how little we know, how much we have only just begun to discover.
  • Along the way, even those of us well versed in some of the more astonishing feats of animal cognition will be staggered.
  • The expansive gallery, which is housed in the top two floors of the Mori Tower, commands staggering views all the way to Mount Fuji.
amaze, astound, astonish, surprise, startle, stun, confound, dumbfound, stupefy, daze, take aback, leave open-mouthed, leave aghast
informal flabbergast, bowl over
3 [with object] Arrange (events, payments, hours, etc.) so that they do not occur at the same time; spread over a period of time: meetings are staggered throughout the day
More example sentences
  • Also, stagger hours so that fewer people are in a building at the same time.
  • Elections are staggered so the Board never is composed completely of new members.
  • The election was staggered over the entire week.
spread (out), space (out), time at intervals
3.1Arrange (objects or parts of an object) in a zigzag order or so that they are not in line: stagger the screws at each joint
More example sentences
  • In Block C especially the roof line is staggered.
  • If you are running four rods, it is a good idea to cover a few different depths by staggering lines every 15 to 20 feet until you begin to hit fish.
  • The rear shocks have been staggered, one fixed forward from the axle, the other one tilting back.


[in singular]
1An unsteady walk or movement: she walked with a stagger
More example sentences
  • He has everything right - the stagger of the man walking, the drape of the man sitting, the accusatory point of the man's finger.
  • Many would probably prefer to be only a short walk from the office in the morning and a drunken stagger back from the bars at night.
  • Most of the mercenaries were dispersing, slowly walking, although for some it was more of a stagger, down the streets bragging to one another.
2An arrangement of things in a zigzag order or so that they are not in line.
Example sentences
  • This arrangement produces a systematic stagger between the adjacent lattices as shown in Fig.5, A.
  • Collagen fibrils are well known to be assemblies of parallel collagen molecules arranged with a longitudinal stagger according to the Hodge-Petruska scheme.
  • A consequence of this stagger on the x-ray diffraction pattern would be a marked enhancement of the 1.1 and 2.2 reflections.



Example sentences
  • The staggerer was mumbling half words and syllables with too many ‘r's in, as the tall guy looked round.
  • What or who created the environment that would allow unconstitutional sobriety checkpoints, bar raids and the incarceration of staggerers?


Late Middle English (as a verb): alteration of dialect stacker, from Old Norse stakra, frequentative of staka 'push, stagger'. The noun dates from the late 16th century.

Words that rhyme with stagger

blagger, bragger, dagger, flagger, Jagger, lagger, nagger, quagga, saggar, swagger

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: stag·ger

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