tee·​ter | \ˈtē-tər \
teetered; teetering; teeters

Definition of teeter 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to move unsteadily : wobble

b : waver, vacillate teetered on the brink of bankruptcy

2 : seesaw



Definition of teeter (Entry 2 of 2)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for teeter

Synonyms: Verb

balance, dither, falter, halt, hang back, hesitate, scruple, shilly-shally, stagger, vacillate, waver, wobble (also wabble)

Antonyms: Verb

dive (in), plunge (in)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of teeter in a Sentence


The pile of books teetered and fell to the floor. She teetered down the street in her high heels.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But even this immense legacy in the scientific world wasn’t enough to guarantee its survival, and this decades-old ice survey would soon teeter on the edge of obsolescence. Scott Yorko, Popular Mechanics, "Back to Alaska: How a Legendary Glacier Adventure Almost Died When the World Needed It Most," 12 Sep. 2018 The worst thing for a radio show is a team that teeters around 500. Teddy Greenstein, chicagotribune.com, "Dan McNeil dishes on ’05 Sox, ’18 Cubs and what talk-radio hosts root for," 26 June 2018 As Beth teeters on the edge, Deja gives her a surprisingly Randall-like pep talk. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is Us Episode Recaps," 31 Oct. 2018 Your information will be used as described in our Privacy Notice OMAHA, Neb. – Texas teetered on the edge, looking down at its own demise while simultaneously denying it. Nick Moyle, Houston Chronicle, "UT eliminated from College World Series by Florida," 19 June 2018 In the summer of 2015, Greece teetered on the brink of collapse after a disastrous six-month showdown with its creditors. Yannis Palaiologos, The Christian Science Monitor, "Online matchmaker pairs donors with charities in Greece," 15 June 2018 If Comcast buys Fox and Sky, the cable giant could become America’s largest corporate borrower and its credit ratings may teeter at the bottom edge of investment grade. Fortune, "Comcast Offers $65 Billion for Fox in Bidding War With Disney," 13 June 2018 Majors said adults have to reach out to the children who are teetering on the edge. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "As murders rise among Indianapolis youth, so too does the search for answers," 2 July 2018 David Sims: Westworld has always teetered on the dangerous edge of mystery-box storytelling, where the delights of keeping secrets from the audience (all to make ultimate plot revelations all the juicier) outweigh the confusion that can result. The Atlantic, "Westworld: Is This Now?," 24 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Built in the atrium of the Hangzhou Star Avenue Mall, the Neobio Family Park makes the teeter-totters and merry-go-rounds of the past feel like ancient toys. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Feast your eyes on this next-level indoor park," 14 Aug. 2018 The nation’s housing market teeters on a mountain of debt, and low-interest loans from state banks have built overcapacity in many industries. Steven Lee Myers, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s trade spat is rattling China’s leaders and economy," 14 Aug. 2018 First Suburb by Chana Porter *World Premiere* November 16 – December 19, 2018 Five preteens teeter on the brink of adolescence when a shocking and violent act interrupts their insular world of personal struggles and triumphs. Wei-huan Chen, Houston Chronicle, "Catastrophic Theatre's 2018-19 season features Will Eno and Robert O'Hara," 27 June 2018 Instead of stitching the hipbelt to the back panel, Kelty feeds it behind the lumbar pad and allows it a few millimeters of movement, as if each wing of the hipbelt were a playground teeter-totter. Kelly Bastone, Outside Online, "The Best Women’s Backpacking Packs," 13 July 2018 Illinois teeters on the edge of a recession because union pension obligations are far too high to repay at any tax rate. Michael Hicks, Indianapolis Star, "Hicks: Ruling against public-sector unions makes us freer," 1 July 2018 The bow teeter-totters delicately over two large industrial light bulbs planted in a crude wooden bowl. Joseph Giovannini, New York Times, "Swiss Institute Has a New Home Ready-Made for Art," 28 June 2018 While 29-year-old former Bachelor Ben Higgins falls solidly in the millennial bracket and Old Pillow Lips, born in 1981, teeters right on the edge of Generation Y, Wills would be the first Bachelor lead to actually feel like a millennial. refinery29.com, "Can We Start The Wills Reid For Bachelor Campaign Right Now?," 10 July 2018 Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, both men who sandwiched him in office, are dead; George senior teeters; Bill Clinton tremors when tired and, at 71, has begun to fade before our eyes. Michael Paterniti, GQ, "Jimmy Carter for Higher Office," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'teeter.' 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 teeter


1844, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1860, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for teeter


Middle English titeren to totter, reel; akin to Old High German zittarōn to shiver

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about teeter

Statistics for teeter

Last Updated

29 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for teeter

The first known use of teeter was in 1844

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for teeter



English Language Learners Definition of teeter

: to move in an unsteady way back and forth or from side to side


tee·​ter | \ˈtē-tər \
teetered; teetering

Kids Definition of teeter

: to move unsteadily back and forth or from side to side Ramona mounted the bicycle and … teetered and wobbled to the corner without falling off.— Beverly Cleary, Ramona Quimby

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on teeter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with teeter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for teeter

Spanish Central: Translation of teeter

Nglish: Translation of teeter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of teeter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on teeter

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


amusing and light sparring with words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!