Etymology
Advertisement
zig-zag (n.)
also zigzag, 1712, from French zigzag (1670s), perhaps from German Zickzack (though this is attested only from 1703), possibly a reduplication of Zacke "tooth, prong." Earliest use in German is in reference to military siege approaches. Originally in English used to describe the layout of certain garden paths. As an adjective from 1750; the verb is recorded from 1774. The brand of cigarette paper is from 1909. Related: Zig-zagged; zig-zagging.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
switchback (n.)
in reference to zig-zag railways, 1863, from switch (v.) + back (adv.). As an adjective from 1873.
Related entries & more 
crank (v.)

1590s, "to zig-zag, run in a winding course," from crank (n.) "a bend, a crook," hence "a winding," for which see crank (n.).  From 1793 as "to bend into a crank shape;" 1834 as "attach a crank to;" meaning "to turn a crank" is first attested 1908, with reference to automobile engines. Related: Cranked; cranking.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
stagger (v.)
mid-15c., "walk unsteadily, reel" (intransitive), altered from stakeren (early 14c.), from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Danish stagra, Old Norse stakra "to push, shove, cause to reel," also "to stumble, stagger," perhaps literally "hit with a stick," from Proto-Germanic *stakon- "a stake," from PIE *steg- (1) "pole, stick." Cognate with Dutch staggelen "to stagger," German staggeln "to stammer." Transitive sense of "bewilder, amaze" first recorded 1550s; that of "arrange in a zig-zag pattern" is from 1856. Related: Staggered; staggering.
Related entries & more