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


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 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

Diamond seems unsteady in a world illuminated by iPhone screens. Daniel Immerwahr, The New Republic, "All Over the Map," 11 June 2019 This current version is broken, unsteady and vulnerable to both size and quickness around the basket. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "Size is bothering Warriors in NBA Finals against Raptors. That’s a first," 8 June 2019 In true sociopath form, Commander Lawrence seems to get off making the women in his life feel constantly unsteady. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "The Handmaid's Tale," 7 June 2019 The youngest child would have been around 3 years old at the time, and their tiny footprints record the small, unsteady steps of a toddler. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "14,000-year-old footprints record an underground Stone Age family outing," 29 May 2019 The physics is simply different; the aerodynamics is inherently unsteady, with high angles of attack and high lift. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Hummingbird Robots 1, Drones 0," 13 May 2019 Despite the unsteady, muddy ground, the Duchess of Sussex chose a chic pair of Stuart Weitzman heeled boots for their trip to the horses. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Braved the Mud in High Heeled Boots to Pet Horses in Morocco," 25 Feb. 2019 The Grammys rarely if ever showcase actual gospel music — and this would have been a great year to do so! — but choirs abound, providing sturdy ballast for unsteady performers. Jon Pareles, Jon Caramanica, Joe Coscarelli And Caryn Ganz, New York Times, "The Best and Worst of the Grammys," 29 Jan. 2018 This is already, at best, a very unsteady plot device (issues around race and policing are still about humans, for one thing). Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The Happytime Murders turns raunchy puppet comedy into inexplicably boring dreck," 23 Aug. 2018

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

The first known use of unsteady was in 1532

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on unsteady

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unsteady

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unsteady

Spanish Central: Translation of unsteady

Nglish: Translation of unsteady for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unsteady for Arabic Speakers

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