Definition of stagger in English:


Line breaks: stag|ger
Pronunciation: /ˈstagə


  • 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, move clumsily, weave, flounder, falter, pitch, roll
  • 1.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] Continue in existence or operation uncertainly or precariously: the treasury staggered from one crisis to the next
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    • 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 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.
  • 3 [with object] Arrange (events, payments, hours, etc.) so that they do not occur at the same time: meetings are staggered throughout the day
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    • 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.
  • 3.1Arrange (objects or parts) in a zigzag formation 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.
    alternate, step, arrange in a zigzag


[in singular] Back to top  
  • 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 formation or so that they are not in line.
    More 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.
  • 2.1The arrangement of the runners in lanes on a running track at the start of a race, so that the runner in the inside lane is positioned behind those in the next lane and so on until the outside lane: by the back straight, he had overtaken the stagger
    More example sentences
    • I felt surprisingly smooth and relaxed as I rounded the first turn and found myself making up the stagger on the runners on my outside.
    • I kept expecting someone to make up the stagger on me, and pull alongside, but it never happened.



More 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?


[as submodifier]: a staggeringly unjust society
More example sentences
  • Jason Gore, the 818-ranked Californian, played staggeringly well yesterday and refused to fold the way most of us thought he would.
  • Those rates of return can be staggeringly high (and the costs of entry into the market relatively low).
  • But mostly, everything was gorgeous because couple was humble, sweet and staggeringly in love.


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.

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