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[uhn-sted-ee] /ʌnˈstɛd i/
not steady or firm; unstable; shaky:
an unsteady hand.
fluctuating or wavering:
an unsteady flame; unsteady prices.
irregular or uneven:
an unsteady development.
verb (used with object), unsteadied, unsteadying.
to make unsteady.
Origin of unsteady
First recorded in 1525-35; un-1 + steady
Related forms
unsteadily, adverb
unsteadiness, noun
1. See unsettled. 2. vacillating, flickering. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unsteadiness
Historical Examples
  • And he laughed aloud, a laugh of utter confidence in spite of all its unsteadiness.

    Once to Every Man Larry Evans
  • There was no trace of unsteadiness in her voice and her eyes were dry.

    The Grell Mystery Frank Froest
  • There was no unsteadiness in his tone, no trace of emotion, as he stood up before her.


    Augusta Jane Evans Wilson
  • No doubt his unsteadiness is nervousness and not vice, and is the result of an accident.

    The Horsewoman Alice M. Hayes
  • She even thought she detected an unsteadiness in the hand that held his pipe.

    The Heart of Unaga Ridgwell Cullum
  • The only thing against it is its unsteadiness in the event of side-slip.

    How To Ski and How Not To Vivian Caulfeild
  • Every part of Him is in harmony with the whole: in Him there is no unsteadiness, no insecurity.

    Lux Mundi Various
  • The Hero of Barrosa rowed us all most terribly for unsteadiness.

    The Life of a Regimental Officer A. F. Mockler-Ferryman
  • An unsteadiness of gait was obvious in some of the feasters.

    Our Hundred Days in Europe Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • There was a hint of unsteadiness in his voice when he finally spoke.

    The Trail of Conflict

    Emilie Baker Loring
British Dictionary definitions for unsteadiness


not securely fixed: an unsteady foothold
(of behaviour, etc) lacking constancy; erratic
without regularity: an unsteady rhythm
(of a manner of walking, etc) precarious, staggering, as from intoxication
verb -steadies, -steadying, -steadied
(transitive) to make unsteady
Derived Forms
unsteadily, adverb
unsteadiness, noun
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 unsteadiness



1590s, from un- (1) "not" + steady (adj.). Cf. Old Frisian unstadich, German unstätig, Middle Dutch onstadich.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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