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 unsteadily (audio) \ adverb
unsteadiness \ ˌən-​ˈste-​dē-​nəs How to pronounce unsteadiness (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 Mulvaney’s standing with his boss has become unsteady after the White House’s flat-footed response to the impeachment inquiry, which some Trump allies have blamed on the chief of staff. BostonGlobe.com, "Most read on BostonGlobe.com," 23 Oct. 2019 Despite achieving the regime change the US was looking for, with the capture and execution of Saddam, the US left Iraq in 2011 with an unsteady government in place. Angela Dewan, CNN, "The US operation in Iraq could come to an embarrassing end. Iran's power will only grow," 18 Jan. 2020 Trying to focus on an object held up by an unsteady arm is likely to strain the eyes, some experts believe. The Economist, "Hope for myopes Over 70% of 12-14 year olds in China are short-sighted," 18 Jan. 2020 The Joint Chiefs chairman's voice was unsteady with emotion. Carol D. Leonnig, Philip Rucker, Anchorage Daily News, "‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals," 17 Jan. 2020 Each disastrous company is a disaster in its own way.(1)But Domo’s trajectory shows that even if a company built on an unsteady foundation completes an IPO, the weak spots still remain. Washington Post, "We’ve Seen the WeWork Saga Before. It’s Called Domo.," 23 Sep. 2019 Low pay, unsteady hours Retail is among the lowest-paying sectors, and employees often have little control over the number of hours they are scheduled to work. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "Climate change could mean big pay swings for 10% of U.S. workers," 11 Sep. 2019 Kicker Stephen Hauschka has been unsteady this season, missing six field goal attempts and two extra point tries. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Ravens vs. Bills scouting report for Week 14: Who has the edge?," 5 Dec. 2019 Looking up, there was another 20-foot ladder, this one slightly more unsteady, leading to a narrow hatch opening to the belfry. al, "Alabama’s bells ring with history," 14 Nov. 2019

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

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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 26 Feb. 2020.

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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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