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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for teetered
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • First, of course, he teetered back and forth on his chair three times.

    The Boy Grew Older Heywood Broun
  • 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
  • One gun wrenched loose, teetered to the roll, and pitched into the seething deep.

    Heralds of Empire Agnes C. Laut
  • He laid the spoon on the rim of the cup again and teetered it.

    The Pagan Madonna Harold MacGrath
  • The young men sprang back into the water to be on the reception committee, and Mary teetered on the far end of the plank.

    The Making of Mary Jean Forsyth
  • "Well—" He teetered a little on his feet and stroked his mustache.

    Hidden Gold Wilder Anthony
  • Mrs. Atkinson teetered on the edge of her chair, as though she might at any moment go flying across the room in a crazy gyration.

    Planet of Dreams James McKimmey
  • He teetered, almost lost his balance and fell back against the wall.

    Deadly City Paul W. Fairman
  • There it teetered while the spectators as one, held their breath.

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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