Also found in: Thesaurus.
Related to tottering: Swag-bellied


intr.v. tot·tered, tot·ter·ing, tot·ters
a. To sway as if about to fall.
b. To appear about to collapse: an empire that had begun to totter.
2. To walk unsteadily or feebly; stagger. See Synonyms at blunder.
The act or condition of tottering.

[Middle English toteren, perhaps of Scandinavian origin.]

tot′ter·er n.
tot′ter·y adj.


(ˈtɒt ər ɪŋ)

1. walking unsteadily or shakily.
2. lacking security or stability; threatening to collapse.
tot′ter•ing•ly, adv.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.tottering - unsteady in gait as from infirmity or old agetottering - unsteady in gait as from infirmity or old age; "a tottering skeleton of a horse"; "a tottery old man"
unsteady - subject to change or variation; "her unsteady walk"; "his hand was unsteady as he poured the wine"; "an unsteady voice"
2.tottering - (of structures or institutions) having lost stabilitytottering - (of structures or institutions) having lost stability; failing or on the point of collapse; "a tottering empire"
unstable - lacking stability or fixity or firmness; "unstable political conditions"; "the tower proved to be unstable in the high wind"; "an unstable world economy"


1. Not physically steady or firm:


[ˈtɒtərɪŋ] ADJ [step] → tambaleante, inseguro, vacilante; [economy, government] → inestable


adjschwankend, wankend; person alsotaumelnd; regimebröckelig; economy, governmentwack(e)lig, kränklich; a tottering monarchein Monarch auf einem wackeligen Thron
References in classic literature ?
I could see old Marrow-Bone tottering along as fast as he could.
From either side we could hear the rattle and roar of war, while the automobile picked its way through smoking ruins and tottering walls.
I am a tottering ruin and my eyes are dim, but I recognized it.
Then with tottering feet, which age and tremulous joy caused to tread amiss, she hurried down the grand staircase, her silks sweeping and rustling as she went, so that the sound was as if a train of spectral courtiers were thronging from the dim mirror.
But that first doubtful tottering moment passed, he seemed to gather strength with his gathering excitement; and the next day, when he was seated at table with his creditors, his eye kindling and his cheek flushed with the consciousness that he was about to make an honorable figure once more, he looked more like the proud, confident, warm-hearted, and warm-tempered Tulliver of old times than might have seemed possible to any one who had met him a week before, riding along as had been his wont for the last four years since the sense of failure and debt had been upon him,--with his head hanging down, casting brief, unwilling looks on those who forced themselves on his notice.
Dismantled houses here and there appeared, tottering to the earth, propped up by fragments of others that had fallen down, unroofed, windowless, blackened, desolate, but yet inhabited.
I remember tottering and falling against their heels in front of the shining share, and that my father hauled back on the lines so violently that the horses nearly sat down on me.
There was one tottering old man who took a great fancy to me, and I to him, but I was not strong enough -- it was an anxious time!
Finally all the hatred and maniacal loathing for these awful creatures who had placed me in this horrible place was centered by my tottering reason upon this single emissary who represented to me the entire horde of Warhoons.
For some time I stood tottering on the mound regardless of my safety.
By the dim light of an accidental lamp, tall, antique, worm-eaten, wooden tenements were seen tottering to their fall, in directions so many and capricious that scarce the semblance of a passage was discernible between them.
He was out of bed by then, "quite convalescent," as he declared, making a few tottering steps to meet me at the sitting- room door.