tee·​ter | \ ˈtē-tər How to pronounce teeter (audio) \
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)

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Synonyms for teeter

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of teeter in a Sentence

Verb 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 The phases break apart but stay connected, cycling back and forth to maintain a state of dynamic equilibrium—teetering on the edge of chaos. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "“Loonshots” and phase transitions are the key to innovation, physicist argues," 29 Dec. 2019 Antibiotic startups Achaogen and Aradigm have gone belly up in recent months, pharmaceutical behemoths Novartis and Allergan have abandoned the sector and many of the remaining American antibiotic companies are teetering toward insolvency. BostonGlobe.com, "NEW YORK — At a time when germs are growing more resistant to common antibiotics, many companies that are developing new versions of the drugs are hemorrhaging money and going out of business, gravely undermining efforts to contain the spread of deadly, drug-resistant bacteria.," 26 Dec. 2019 Though the moment teetered on the edge of farce, Yoland’s demeanor throughout remained utterly serious and respectful. al, "The day a tumbleweed rolled down Dauphin Street," 16 Dec. 2019 Three straight losses have Oakland Raiders teetering on the brink of being ousted from the playoff race in the AFC. oregonlive, "Oakland Raiders vs Jacksonville Jaguars: Live score updates, TV channel, how to watch free live stream online," 15 Dec. 2019 This isn't the first time that the singer has teetered on the verge of wearing acceptable attire. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "Cardi B Ruffles Feathers in Queens Court," 10 Dec. 2019 Across the corridor sit hundreds of Buddha miniatures, each sheathed in gilt, resting on black obsidian bases that teeter on two tiers of sandstone. Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian, "The Hidden City of Myanmar," 21 Nov. 2019 First and foremost is the Syrian government, which in mid-2015 appeared to be teetering on the brink of collapse until Russia intervened militarily to shore it up. Ben Wederman, CNN, "This is how Syria's 8-year war ends. But there's nothing to celebrate," 16 Oct. 2019 The rare cross-section view shows the eggs as their mama left them, huddled together below the surface, but now teetering on the edge of the sharp cliff. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "WATCH: Hurricane Dorian Exposed a Remarkable Sight on This Outer Banks Beach," 23 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And the one-loss champion Buckeyes suddenly teeter on the edge of becoming the fourth-straight Big Ten champ to miss the playoff. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, "Ohio State AD Gene Smith explains why he quit the College Football Playoff committee (and he’s fighting for the Buckeyes now)," 28 Nov. 2019 As the Libra Association seemingly teeters, the project has also lost its product chief, Simon Morris. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "For once, Facebook is the underdog as Libra skepticism mounts," 10 Oct. 2019 In the book, as Hrabal teeters on the brink of old age, the ever-multiplying cats that crowd his country cottage come to constitute his last real link with life. Becca Rothfeld, The New Yorker, "The Violent Insights of Bohumil Hrabal," 19 Nov. 2019 Salads — like a mound of kale with raisins, pistachio and apple — are better than most and teeter on the brink of standing out, though small balance issues keep them tethered to their mortal forms. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Fellow Osteria in Scottsdale is too interesting to ignore but too inconsistent to embrace," 16 July 2019 But in recent months, the two seem to occupy opposite ends of a teeter-totter, with consumers continuing to spend while business owners and managers are chastened by doubt and uncertainty. Patricia Cohen, New York Times, "Companies Cut Back, but Consumers Party On, Driving the Economy," 4 Nov. 2019 Floating villages line the lake, where everything—homes, shops, restaurants, schools, hospitals—teeters just above the water on stilts. Kareena Gianani, National Geographic, "Explore Cambodia’s ancient stone city," 10 Sep. 2019 The move comes at a heightened moment of controversy, in which the monarch teeters on the brink of entering a national political maelstrom. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Queen Approves a Suspension of Parliament amid Brexit Controversy," 29 Aug. 2019 Momentum in football sometimes teeters on something as innocuous as an offsides penalty. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, "Chargers face Lions embracing the pressure of defending their NFL road warrior title," 14 Sep. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for teeter

Time Traveler

The first known use of teeter was in 1844

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Statistics for teeter

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Teeter.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/teeter. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for teeter


How to pronounce teeter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of teeter

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


tee·​ter | \ ˈtē-tər How to pronounce teeter (audio) \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on teeter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for teeter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with teeter

Spanish Central: Translation of teeter

Nglish: Translation of teeter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of teeter for Arabic Speakers

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good-natured easy friendliness

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