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 Hurd, the only black Republican in the House, represents a district that has teetered for most of the last decade between the two parties. Dallas News, "Will Hurd walks tightrope on Trump, distancing himself without alienating too many GOP voters," 18 July 2019 These are somber and at times excruciatingly slow symphonies that teeter on the edge of existence. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "Review: Mirga’s first major recording is a magical debut," 5 June 2019 The already teetering economy cratered, and oil prices followed. Paul Vigna, WSJ, "Tesla’s Epic Rally Echoes Past Oil, Bitcoin Bubbles," 4 Feb. 2020 American sanctions on Hezbollah and its patron, Iran, have left it less able to offer the subsidies, services and jobs that its supporters used to count on, just as the Lebanese economy was teetering. Vivian Yee, New York Times, "For Lebanon’s Shiites, a Dilemma: Stay Loyal to Hezbollah or Keep Protesting?," 4 Feb. 2020 Home to the Weasleys and often Harry’s refuge, The Burrow perpetually teeters on the verge of collapse...but the home is filled with joy and magic. Isabel Garcia, House Beautiful, "The Fictional House People Most Want to Live in Is...Wayne Manor?," 29 Jan. 2020 The Wolverines have lost four straight games and are teetering toward the NCAA bubble as Simpson, the team's starting point guard and unquestioned leader, gets set to serve a one-game suspension for a violation of team policies. . Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan basketball at Nebraska: Scouting report, prediction," 27 Jan. 2020 The Iranian people are suffering under tightening sanctions that have brought the country’s teetering economy to its knees. Ian Bremmer, Time, "After Trump's Bold Move, Iran Is Left With Few Strategic Options," 23 Jan. 2020 An increased number of hospitals, especially those in rural areas, are left teetering financially. Markian Hawryluk, USA TODAY, "Rural hospital closures leave communities reeling – and high deductibles contribute," 10 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When Cvechko told the children to come to the car, Kambria unknowingly walked across the pit’s lid, which flipped like a teeter-totter, sending her through the narrow opening. Washington Post, "Girl’s fall into grease pit prompts effort to toughen fines," 4 Feb. 2020 Parts of the song teeter right on the edge of malevolence as the band members use their mythic powers to battle their alter-egos, infamously dubbed X-EXO. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 25 Best K-pop Songs of 2019: Critics' Picks," 29 Dec. 2019 But even as his presidency teeters, one of the few policy issues that has maintained Trump’s personal focus is not one central to his political appeal, like immigration or trade. BostonGlobe.com, "It is the state of California.," 24 Nov. 2019 Many of those decisions, which a small subcommittee votes on, teeter on identity politics: Yes, redheads deserve representation; no, marijuana does not. Wired, "In Flying Flags, Emoji Become Political," 25 Oct. 2019 With a high Alpine landscape, world-class skiing, and mineral-rich waters once referred to as the fountain of youth, this eclectic but almost-forgotten town teeters on the brink of rebirth. Elizabeth Wellington, Vogue, "This Austrian Spa and Ski Town Is Straight Out of a Wes Anderson Film," 11 Jan. 2019 The problem: Many communities lack law enforcement of any kind, and the state’s VPSO program teeters on the brink of failure. Kyle Hopkins, ProPublica, "Alaska’s Law Enforcement Crisis Is a Public Emergency. Here’s How Experts Want to Fix It.," 21 Dec. 2011 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

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

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Teeter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/teeter?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=t&file=teeter01. Accessed 24 Feb. 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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