un·​steady | \ ˌən-ˈste-dē How to pronounce unsteady (audio) \
unsteadied; unsteadying; unsteadies

Definition of unsteady

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make unsteady



Definition of unsteady (Entry 2 of 2)

: not steady: such as
a : not firm or solid : not fixed in position : unstable
b : marked by change or fluctuation : changeable
c : not uniform or even : irregular an unsteady pulse

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Other Words from unsteady


unsteadily \ ˌən-​ˈste-​də-​lē How to pronounce unsteady (audio) \ adverb
unsteadiness \ ˌən-​ˈste-​dē-​nəs How to pronounce unsteady (audio) \ noun

Examples of unsteady in a Sentence

Adjective He was a little unsteady on his feet. The horse walked with an unsteady gait. He signed his name with an unsteady hand. The progress of the work has been unsteady. a period of unsteady growth
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The changes offered purpose and vital human connections that seemed to serve as moorings in a life too routinely unsteadied by the gathering gloom. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Painful lesson of late Jake Palet: Helping, hurting can go hand-in-hand," 16 Sep. 2019 The rocks shifted and wobbled beneath my feet as the robust current pushed against my legs, unsteadying me. Cheryl Strayed, Vogue, "Is Glamping Camping? Wild’s Cheryl Strayed Tackles the Question—in Style," 17 July 2018 The administration's haphazard appointment process is unlike any in recent memory and has left the federal government unsteadied at the highest levels. Robert O'harrow Jr., Anchorage Daily News, "Promoted six times and then fired: A 24-year-old political appointee's wild ride in Trump's Washington," 15 June 2018 Still, yesterday’s reports contributed to the latest in a mounting series of scandals that have unsteadied the Trump administration for months. Isobel Thompson, The Hive, "Trump Confirms He Is Being Investigated for Obstruction," 15 June 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Other factors include an assessment of whether the foot chase would occur in a residential or commercial area, a school zone, the weather conditions, lighting, time of day and if the ground is unsteady, the document states. Annie Sweeney, chicagotribune.com, "Document shows Chicago police development of new foot-chase policy in wake of high-profile fatal police shootings," 30 Apr. 2021 Bonet had red, glassy eyes, slurred speech, an odor of alcohol on his breath, and was unsteady on his feet. Wayne K. Roustan, sun-sentinel.com, "Delray Beach police detective arrested for DUI after patrol cars collide," 30 Apr. 2021 The route to Sykes is not for the unsteady or overburdened hiker. Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, "Popular Big Sur trail to Sykes Hot Springs reopens five years after Soberanes Fire cut it off," 16 Apr. 2021 Testing and increasing the pace of an unsteady vaccine roll-out is the key to recovery for the struggling market in Europe. Fortune, "Airline industry on pace to lose $48 billion this year, IATA warns," 21 Apr. 2021 Having Harry in country at last, for the first time since the March 9 Oprah broadcast, might now best be compared to hauling an unsteady detonator cap into a roomful of sweating dynamite. Guy Martin, Forbes, "The Battle Lines At Philip’s Funeral Take Shape: Prince Harry, Now In Windsor, And Prince William Post Tributes To Their Grandfather," 12 Apr. 2021 Minnesota blew a 6-0 sixth-inning lead when Shoemaker strangely transformed from untouchable to unsteady, allowing four runs in four batters, starting with Seager's blast into the right-field seats. Phil Miller, Star Tribune, "Twins blow six-run lead, waste Byron Buxton's big day in 8-6 loss to Mariners," 11 Apr. 2021 The suspect was unsteady on her feet and was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, "OVI suspect charged in crash denies accident: Westlake Police Blotter," 3 Apr. 2021 Leicht said her friend was doing better, but was still a little unsteady on his feet and wasn’t quite ready to come home from the hospital yet. oregonlive, "Hickory the mule is back home after leading hikers to injured owner, then disappearing into forest," 30 Mar. 2021

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


1532, in the meaning defined above


1551, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for unsteady

Time Traveler

The first known use of unsteady was in 1532

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Cite this Entry

“Unsteady.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unsteady. Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for unsteady



English Language Learners Definition of unsteady

: not standing or moving in a steady and balanced way
: shaking or moving because of nervousness, weakness, etc.
: not happening or proceeding in a smooth and constant way


un·​steady | \ ˌən-ˈste-dē How to pronounce unsteady (audio) \
unsteadier; unsteadiest

Kids Definition of unsteady

: not steady : unstable Her legs are so unsteady she needs help walking.

Other Words from unsteady

unsteadily \ -​ˈste-​də-​lē \ adverb

Comments on unsteady

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