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

The projections from Sunday’s election also had the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn teetering on the lower side of the 3% threshold needed to enter parliament. Washington Post, "The Latest: Greece’s left-wing leader concedes election," 8 July 2019 Winning the Kemba Walker sweepstakes is a serious coup for the Celtics, particularly considering recent circumstances, which had Boston teetering on the precipice of a soft reset. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "Kemba Walker Revitalizes the Celtics' Championship Hopes," 30 June 2019 To rein in its teetering debt, Greece has agreed with the eurozone to run a budget surplus of 3.5% of gross domestic product for many years, excluding interest payments. Nektaria Stamouli, WSJ, "Greece’s Voters Turn to Establishment Amid Europe’s Populist Wave," 27 June 2019 But the suddenly teetering program has been hit by an eye-popping number of transfers. Brent Zwerneman, ExpressNews.com, "A sport-by-sport checklist as Bjork settles in at A&M," 11 June 2019 The trial team focused on recruiting people who resembled the mice Chatenoud and Bach had found success with years earlier: Those with a combination of unstable blood sugar and blood antibodies who were teetering on the cusp of diabetes. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "In milestone trial, experimental drug delays type 1 diabetes," 9 June 2019 Mark Helfrich took the Ducks to a national title game, sure, but four seasons after Kelly’s departure the operation teetered. oregonlive.com, "Canzano: Clock ticking on Oregon State baseball and Pat Casey," 3 June 2019 Maybe those people will be teetering in tree pose next to you at your local Bikram studio. Maggie Bullock, Vogue, "Is Telefitness the Wave of the Future? Or Another Way Tech Is Keeping Us Apart?," 15 May 2019 The price also dropped 85% from December 2013 to January 2015, sparked by the shutdown of the Silk Road website, an online drug bazaar that used bitcoin, and problems at the teetering Mt. Gox trading exchange. Paul Vigna, WSJ, "Bitcoin Is in the Dumps, Spreading Gloom Over Crypto World," 19 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There’s more to do, more to see, more to remember, and the breadth of the game teeters constantly between challenging and overwhelming. David Pierce, WSJ, "The Problem With ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’," 30 June 2019 Roodt reserves special ire for South Africa’s dominant party, the African National Congress, which is presently engulfed in yet another high-level corruption scandal as the economy teeters on the brink of recession. Gregory Barber, WIRED, "Inside an All-White Town’s Divisive Experiment With Cryptocurrency," 6 June 2019 LeBoutillier notes that while her business teeters, Trump companies have hired H-2B foreigners. Jeff Gammage, Philly.com, "Hire American? Without foreign workers, a Chesco garden business could wither," 20 Apr. 2018 His rule—and his family’s security and fortune—already teeters under pressure of regional migration and domestic Palestinian discontent. Daniel J. Arbess, WSJ, "The True-State Solution," 2 Jan. 2019 Even after cutting so many corners, Fortnite on the S8+ only teeters on the edge of 30fps performance, with acceptable, iOS- and Switch-like stutters when aiming the game's camera at simpler scenes. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Fortnite on Android gets off to a bumpy, Samsung-only start, lags behind PUBG," 14 Aug. 2018 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

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

12 Jul 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).


to complain fretfully

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