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[tee-ter] /ˈti tər/ Chiefly Northern U.S.
verb (used without object)
to move unsteadily.
to ride a seesaw; teetertotter.
verb (used with object)
to tip (something) up and down; move unsteadily.
a seesaw motion; wobble.
a seesaw; teetertotter.
Origin of teeter
1835-45; variant of dial. titter, Middle English titeren < Old Norse titra tremble; cognate with German zittern to tremble, quiver Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for teetered
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As she teetered out, it was plain that she was all but in a panic to get away.

    The Rich Little Poor Boy Eleanor Gates
  • He laid the spoon on the rim of the cup again and teetered it.

    The Pagan Madonna Harold MacGrath
  • Friar Mathieu turned and teetered precariously at the top of the steps.

  • "Well—" He teetered a little on his feet and stroked his mustache.

    Hidden Gold Wilder Anthony
  • The great stone in the roof, crumbled by ages, slipped and teetered.

    Gladiator Philip Wylie
  • There it teetered while the spectators as one, held their breath.

  • He teetered, almost lost his balance and fell back against the wall.

    Deadly City Paul W. Fairman
  • First, of course, he teetered back and forth on his chair three times.

    The Boy Grew Older Heywood Broun
  • It teetered crazily over the ten foot drop to the floor below.

    Feline Red Robert Sampson
British Dictionary definitions for teetered


to move or cause to move unsteadily; wobble
noun, verb
another word for seesaw
Word Origin
C19: from Middle English titeren, related to Old Norse titra to tremble, Old High German zittarōn to shiver
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 teetered



1843, "to seesaw," alteration of Middle English titter "move unsteadily," probably from Old Norse titra "to shake, shiver, totter," related to German zittern "to tremble." Noun teeter-totter "see-saw" is attested from 1905.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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