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

falter, rock, totter, waver, wobble (also wabble)

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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

At times, this balancing act has teetered too far in heeding signals from Beijing, at least in the eyes of foreign observers. Jane Li, Quartz at Work, "Jack Ma’s 55th birthday present to himself is stepping away from Alibaba," 9 Sep. 2019 This offseason could have been much worse for Alabama, which will enter the fall teetering on the edge of irrelevance, but with a roster talented enough to make the NCAA Tournament. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al.com, "How Alabama’s Nate Oats mastered the transfer portal in this new age of the NCAA," 19 June 2019 An enormous pile of books stood teetering against the wall as Kristen’s cat batted the blinds. Daniel Poppick, Harper's magazine, "Rumors," 16 Sep. 2019 Lawmakers used the hours before the suspension to deliver new blows to Johnson’s teetering authority. SFChronicle.com, "Brexit pressure coming from all sides as EU divorce nears," 9 Sep. 2019 The film is visually stunning and impeccably paced, dispensing terror and dread at regular intervals but never neglecting the humor and warm glow of these preteens teetering on the brink of adolescence. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: IT Chapter Two is overlong, but Pennywise will still haunt your dreams," 6 Sep. 2019 An eleventh-hour takeover attempt by the C&N Sporting Risk group didn't materialise, leaving the historic club teetering on the brink. SI.com, "EFL to Discuss Possibility of Reinstating Bury Into League Two for 2020/21," 3 Sep. 2019 Snake River sockeye salmon, which swim up the Columbia and reproduce in high-elevation Idaho lakes, teetered on extinction for several years before an elaborate hatchery program involving Fish and Game was created. Keith Ridler, The Seattle Times, "New plan targets salmon-eating sea lions in Columbia River," 2 Sep. 2019 The relationship between leads Aldis Hodge and Kevin Bacon got tiresome and vague, and the finale was topped by a courtroom scene teetering on illogic. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, "The best and worst of TV this summer," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Even John Woo has been known to punch through seriousness and on into giddy bombast in films like Face/Off, where Nicolas Cage and John Travolta teeter on the edge of self-parody, and then gleefully jump off that edge, guns blazing. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "Netflix’s Wu Assassins series lacks the Hong Kong cinema magic," 8 Aug. 2019 Their idea finally came to life at an event Monday in Sunland Park, New Mexico, when three bright pink seesaws or teeter-totters were added to the giant steel border wall. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, "California professors install seesaws along U.S.-Mexico border wall," 30 July 2019 This recommendation teeters above freezing — no ice crystals or frozen foods here! — yet below the danger zone. Nicole Papantoniou, Good Housekeeping, "How to Make Sure Your Refrigerator Is Actually at a Safe Temperature," 29 July 2019 The fire damaged an X-Wave teeter-totter and Ring Trek equipment, Stenehjem said. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Teen arrested in playground fire at East Anchorage elementary school that caused $100,000 in damage," 27 July 2019 There will also be a 4-foot grade change that will include hill slides and hill play, two 12-foot towers with climbing features and tunnel slides, an at-grade spinner, accessible teeter-totter, accessible zip line, swing set and a toddler playhouse. Cathy Kozlowicz, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After 10 years of planning, a new playground, pavilion and splash pad in Sussex are breaking ground," 17 July 2019 The moon also dampens the amount that Earth teeters on its axis, helping to keep our climate more stable. National Geographic, "Why does Earth have a moon, and how does it affect our planet?," 3 July 2019 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

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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Statistics for teeter

Last Updated

18 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for teeter

The first known use of teeter was in 1844

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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 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

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).


involving a confidence or trust

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