- walking unsteadily or shakily.
- lacking security or stability; threatening to collapse; precarious: a tottering empire.
verb (used without object)
- to walk or go with faltering steps, as if from extreme weakness.
- to sway or rock on the base or ground, as if about to fall: The tower seemed to totter in the wind. The government was tottering.
- to shake or tremble: a load that tottered.
- the act of tottering; an unsteady movement or gait.
- to walk or move in an unsteady manner, as from old age
- to sway or shake as if about to fall
- to be failing, unstable, or precarious
- the act or an instance of tottering
c.1200, “swing to and fro,” perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Norwegian totra “to quiver, shake”). Meaning “stand or walk with shaky, unsteady steps” is from c.1600. Related: Tottered; tottering.