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 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 Plus, the Yankees bullpen had been unsteady during the Series. Los Angeles Times, "Greatest moments in Dodger history, No. 15: Dodgers win 1981 World Series," 23 Mar. 2021 Grip, a research technologist also at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, likens the unsteady motion to riding a bicycle with heavy grocery bags hanging from the handle bars. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Meet the First Helo on Mars: A Deep Dive Into What Makes Ingenuity So…Ingenious," 20 Feb. 2021 The big expansive canvas of a tablet is truly suited to digital pen use, whereas a phone feels cramped and unsteady. Janhoi Mcgregor, Forbes, "Why You Need To Buy An S Pen For Your Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra," 9 Mar. 2021 The officer noted the suspect was unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech and his eyes were rolling back into his head. cleveland, "The wheels on this car go round and roll: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 5 Mar. 2021 With Biden in White House, Saudi relations are already on unsteady ground, and Saudi Arabia not addressing the higher oil price issue could sour relations even further. Naeem Aslam, Forbes, "Saudi Arabia Doesn’t Care About Surging Oil Prices. How High Will Oil Go?," 5 Mar. 2021 The work shows a man on a crooked path, in an unsteady green landscape, walking toward dogs, one of which has a smudge of paint for a nose. Ian Parker, The New Yorker, "Every Nicole Eisenman Picture Tells a Story," 22 Feb. 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 23 Apr. 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

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Comments on unsteady

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