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[kil-ter] /ˈkɪl tər/
good condition; order:
The engine was out of kilter.
Poker. skeet2 .
Origin of kilter
First recorded in 1630-40; variant of dial. kelter < ? Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for kilter
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Them ear-fixin's was good while they lasted, but they got out of kilter quick.

    Cy Whittaker's Place Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Then he said: 'There's no wonder the engine's out of kilter.

    Galusha the Magnificent Joseph C. Lincoln
  • “I guess it was my own sense of proportion that got out of kilter, Gee-Gee,” he finally said.

    The Prairie Mother Arthur Stringer
  • You can see it now, though it is all out of gear and kilter.

    In The Boyhood of Lincoln Hezekiah Butterworth
  • It came there yesterday afternoon, and seems to be out of kilter.

  • The property-man's shooting-irons are all out of kilter, too.

    A Pasteboard Crown Clara Morris
  • kilter wiped the blood from his face and the sweat from his body with a flannel, and placed the neck of a bottle to his mouth.

    The Man Who Laughs

    Victor Hugo
  • We've had some reports that some of the government machines are out of kilter, and I'd like you to go over them for me.

    Occasion for Disaster Gordon Randall Garrett
British Dictionary definitions for kilter


working order or alignment (esp in the phrases off kilter, out of kilter)
Word Origin
C17: origin unknown
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for kilter

in out of kilter (1620s) variant of English dialectal kelter (c.1600) "good condition, order," of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for kilter


Related Terms

out of kilter

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with kilter


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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