Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To move or stand unsteadily, as if under a great weight; totter.
  • intransitive v. To begin to lose confidence or strength of purpose; waver.
  • transitive v. To cause to totter, sway, or reel: The blow staggered him.
  • transitive v. To overwhelm with emotion or astonishment.
  • transitive v. To cause to waver or lose confidence.
  • transitive v. To place on or as if on alternating sides of a center line; set in a zigzag row or rows: theater seats that were staggered for clear viewing.
  • transitive v. To arrange in alternating or overlapping time periods: staggered the nurses' shifts.
  • transitive v. To arrange (the wings of a biplane) so that the leading edge of one wing is either ahead of or behind the leading edge of the other wing.
  • transitive v. Sports To arrange (the start of a race) with the starting point in the outside lanes progressively closer to the finish line so as to neutralize the advantage of competing in the shorter inside lanes.
  • n. A tottering, swaying, or reeling motion.
  • n. A staggered pattern, arrangement, or order.
  • n. Any of various diseases of the nervous system in animals, especially horses, cattle, or other domestic animals, characterized by a lack of coordination in moving, a staggering gait, and frequent falling. Also called blind staggers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An unsteady movement of the body in walking or standing, as if one were about to fall; a reeling motion; vertigo; -- often in the plural; as, the stagger of a drunken man.
  • n. A disease of horses and other animals, attended by reeling, unsteady gait or sudden falling; as, parasitic staggers; apoplectic or sleepy staggers.
  • n. bewilderment; perplexity.
  • v. sway unsteadily, reel, or totter
  • v. doubt, waver, be shocked

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To move to one side and the other, as if about to fall, in standing or walking; not to stand or walk with steadiness; to sway; to reel or totter.
  • intransitive v. To cease to stand firm; to begin to give way; to fail.
  • intransitive v. To begin to doubt and waver in purpose; to become less confident or determined; to hesitate.
  • transitive v. To cause to reel or totter.
  • transitive v. To cause to doubt and waver; to make to hesitate; to make less steady or confident; to shock.
  • transitive v. To arrange (a series of parts) on each side of a median line alternately, as the spokes of a wheel or the rivets of a boiler seam.
  • n. An unsteady movement of the body in walking or standing, as if one were about to fall; a reeling motion; vertigo; -- often in the plural.
  • n. A disease of horses and other animals, attended by reeling, unsteady gait or sudden falling
  • n. Bewilderment; perplexity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To walk or stand unsteadily; reel; totter.
  • To hesitate; begin to doubt or waver in purpose; falter; become less confident or determined; waver; vacillate.
  • Synonyms Totter, etc. See reel.
  • To cause to reel, totter, falter, or be unsteady; shake.
  • To cause to hesitate, waver, or doubt; fill with doubts or misgivings; make less steady, determined, or confident.
  • To arrange in a zigzag order; specifically, in wheel-making, to set (the spokes) in the hub alternately inside and outside (or more or less to one side of) a line drawn round the hub.
  • n. A sudden tottering motion, swing, or reel of the body as if one were about to fall, as through tripping, giddiness, or intoxication.
  • n. plural One of various forms of functional and organic disease of the brain and spinal cord in domesticated animals, especially horses and cattle: more fully called blind staggers.
  • n. Hence plural A feeling of giddiness, reeling, or unsteadiness; a sensation which causes reeling.
  • n. plural Perplexities; doubts; bewilderment; confusion.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. walk as if unable to control one's movements
  • n. an unsteady uneven gait
  • v. to arrange in a systematic order
  • v. astound or overwhelm, as with shock
  • v. walk with great difficulty

Etymologies

Alteration of Middle English stakeren, from Old Norse stakra, frequentative of staka, to push.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old Norse stakra (to push). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Nascar: What does the term stagger refer to on a race car?

    Yahoo! Answers: Latest Questions

  • -- The stagger is the distance the top surface is in advance of the bottom surface when the aeroplane is in flying position.

    The Aeroplane Speaks

  • MR. MCCURRY: It's going to be hard enough to get news organizations interested in these conventions to begin with, so we could kind of stagger the air traffic pattern a little bit -- that would be a welcome development.

    Mccurry Briefing

  • It maintains the "stagger" and assists in maintaining the angle of incidence.

    The Aeroplane Speaks

  • Lateness, laziness, or insubordination were punished by the deduction of so many marks from their weekly earnings, and all on the say-so of the "stagger" in charge of the squad.

    World's War Events, Vol. II

  • I was right glad, glad with a "stagger" of the heart, to see your writing again.

    Biographia Epistolaris, Volume 1.

  • What do you think about the GOJ proposal to "stagger" the Golden Week holidays over a month across the archipelago?

    debito.org

  • The fundamental basis here is that you pepper opponents until they "stagger", whence they suffer more damage.

    NY Daily News

  • The analysts urged regulators to prevent "double accounting of regulation" and to "stagger" implementation.

    Telegraph.co.uk: news, business, sport, the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Sunday Telegraph

  • This song from one of my favorite bands has a rollicking tune to it, supplied by a drunken piano and drums-a kind of stagger, to my ear, evocative of being out late at night having had too much to drink, everything around you both hyper-real and blurred.

    Largehearted Boy

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