kil·​ter | \ ˈkil-tər \

Definition of kilter 

: proper or usual state or condition : order out of kilter

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for kilter


condition, estate, fettle, form, health, keeping, nick [British], order, repair, shape, trim

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of kilter in a Sentence

since I dropped my food processor, it's been all out of kilter

Recent Examples on the Web

For a roughly 7-by-6-foot fringed blanket and charming pillows (there’s a choice of two colors and sizes), the scarves have been chopped up and stitched together in a tastefully off-kilter patchwork motif. Marley Marius, Vogue, "Acne Studios Offers a Characteristically Cool Take on Home Goods," 5 Dec. 2018 All of the toys in the collection have a perfectly off-kilter sense of fun. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Ikea’s new line of toys is perfectly off-kilter," 10 Sep. 2018 Had its angle of entry been even one degree off kilter, JPL mission engineers said, the spacecraft would have been deflected into deep space or burned up by friction in the thin Martian air. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "NASA’s InSight Spacecraft Lands Safely on Mars," 26 Nov. 2018 Like many technological forecasts, these visions may be slightly off-kilter from the future that actually unfolds. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Self-Driving Car Returns to Earth," 30 Nov. 2018 The movie’s title design — and, even more so, the chapter titles that appear throughout the film — is at once buttoned-up and off-kilter. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Sorry to Bother You," 12 Nov. 2018 Retrofuturist Bangs, Bobs, and Bowls are Having a Moment As far as Guido Palau's career-making shears are concerned, the shorter and more off-kilter the cut, the better. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "The 6 Beauty Lessons To Steal Right Now From Paris Fashion Week," 3 Oct. 2018 There are vibrant knitted scarves from Cape Town designer Nicholas Coutts and sustainable yet off-kilter garments from Johannesburg duo Mmuso Potsane and Maxwell Boko’s line, MmusoMaxwell, to name a couple. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "The Folklore Is a New Online Concept Store Bringing Some of Africa’s Best New Designers to the U.S.," 11 Sep. 2018 Both acts exist in an experimental limbo that allows them to claim rock (Mr. Bhatia also performs with Son Lux) and electronic music without ever losing the possibility that at any moment, things could go completely and thrillingly off-kilter. New York Times, "12 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kilter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of kilter

1628, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kilter

origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about kilter

Dictionary Entries near kilter







Kimberley horse disease

Statistics for kilter

Last Updated

1 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for kilter

The first known use of kilter was in 1628

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for kilter


kil·​ter | \ ˈkil-tər \

Kids Definition of kilter

: proper condition The TV is out of kilter.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on kilter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kilter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kilter

Spanish Central: Translation of kilter

Nglish: Translation of kilter for Spanish Speakers

Comments on kilter

What made you want to look up kilter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by shyness and lack of polish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Liar, Liar Quiz

  • alt-5761dbe2ba986
  • Someone who pretends to be sick in order to avoid work is a:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!