from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A top, usually having four lettered sides, that is used to play various games of chance.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A toy (top) similar to a dreidel.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A child's toy, somewhat resembling a top, and twirled by the fingers.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. See the extract.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a conical child's plaything tapering to a steel point on which it can be made to spin
A round teetotum revolving on its point represents the sky turning on its axis, the two points of the teetotum are the two poles; the child will be delighted to find one of them, and I show him the tail of the Little bear.
I had seen a set of models of the regular polyhedra in my High School trig class, and decided that a “12-sided teetotum” must be the 12-sdied thingy (a regular dodecahedron) I had seen in the set.
Back in 1965, I read the rules to a game published in 1880 that said one could use a “12-sided teetotum” instead of a 6-sided die, for resolving odds of 6: 1, 7: 1 etc up to 11: 1, but did not explain what a teetotum was or how to make one.
The five days needed to reach it after it first appeared on the horizon had been fraught with danger: a dozen rapids, violent eddies that whirled the Explorer around “like a teetotum,” interspersed with innumerable reaches through which the boat had to be towed by a dozen men hauling upon fraying ropes or by a battered skiff with splintered oars.
Not that I bear him a grudge, much, for he was a jolly little teetotum, bursting with good intentions, and you may say it wasn't his fault that they paved my road to Hell - which lay at the bottom of a salt-mine, and it's only by the grace of God that I ain't there yet, entombed in everlasting rock.
But, all of a sudden, somebody shut off the steam below, and the hole was left empty in an instant: and then down rushed the water into the hole, in such a whirlpool that the bogy spun round and round as fast as a teetotum.
While heaping these compliments on Mr Flintwinch, he rolled him about with a hand on each of his shoulders, until the staggerings of that gentleman, who under the circumstances was dryer and more twisted than ever, were like those of a teetotum nearly spent.
As yet, since I came to full-grown power, I had never met any one whom I could not play teetotum with: but now at last I had found a man whose strength was not to be laughed at.
Maurice Mair seemed to spin like a teetotum and pitch upon his face like a ninepin.
But for some odd reason, it was at that very instant that the priest in sheer perversity spun round like a teetotum, turned his back on the corpse, and looked peeringly in the very opposite direction.