verb[no object, with adverbial]
- 1Move in a feeble or unsteady way: a hunched figure tottering down the pathMore example sentences
- With enough blood collected a young warrior caked the wound with fresh dung and the animal was released to totter away on unsteady legs but otherwise unharmed.
- Behind them another three girls, only slightly older, are tottering unsteadily to and from the bar in high-heels, serving beers to the largely local clientele.
- After a while the passenger door opened, and an elderly lady tottered out.
- 1.1 (usually as adjective tottering) (Of a building) shake or rock as if about to collapse: tottering, gutted housesMore example sentences
- The building was tottering on the brink of falling in on itself.
- Spectators trained digital cameras and cellphone cameras on the structure and waited as huge cracks appeared and the building tottered.
- It resembled a rectangular crown, a small tottering tower of points and bars rising from the camel's back.
- 1.2Be insecure or about to fail: the pharmaceutical industry has tottered from crisis to crisisMore example sentences
be unstable, be unsteady, be shaky, be insecure, be precarious, be on the point of collapse, falter• informal wobble
- The fragile banking industry is tottering, and the enormous level of foreign investment China has enjoyed over the past decade is under threat.
- These books examine notions of government and justice in post-colonial times and throw some light on why some Pacific nations seemingly totter from one crisis to another.
- ‘The pressing concern of the moment is how to prevent Lebanon from tottering over the brink of the abyss,’ said the English-language Daily Star.
noun[in singular] Back to top
- A feeble or unsteady gait.More example sentences
- You may say that none of this sounds like a leap forward, more like a totter backwards.
- Call it a slight totter in an approximately forward direction if you must but it feels like a giant leap to me.
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- He didn't take himself seriously, and that's just what the crowd, which took in teens to totterers liked about him.
- Each year the event sells out to a capacity crowd of 3,000 people of every age, from toddlers to totterers.
- Finding extraordinary compatibility between toddlers and totterers, some entrepreneurs have created ‘intergenerational’ daycare centers which allow children to interact with seniors.
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- There was a farmer who rang in with a heifer that was very tottery on its feet and salivating.
- So we've set up the rather tottery edifice that is normal under the legal system in England and Wales and, for the next eight to twelve weeks or so, we'll live inside it, propping it up and patching it as necessary.
- We took a short provisioning trip this morning and, judging by the number of tired, ashen faces to be seen atop slightly tottery bodies, I'm not alone in my struggle to get back to normal.
Middle English: from Middle Dutch touteren 'to swing' (the original sense in English).
nounBritish • informal
- A person who makes a living by salvaging saleable items from dustbins or rubbish heaps: Coney Street in York was a totter’s paradise on Tuesday morningMore example sentences
- 25 years ago Coney Street in York was a totter's paradise on Tuesday morning, refuse collection day.
late 19th century: from tot3.