[ see-saw ]
See synonyms for: seesawseesawed on

  1. a recreation in which two children alternately ride up and down while seated at opposite ends of a plank balanced at the middle.

  2. a plank or apparatus for this recreation.

  1. an up-and-down or a back-and-forth movement or procedure.

  2. Whist. a crossruff.

  1. moving up and down, back and forth, or alternately ahead and behind: It was a seesaw game with the lead changing hands many times.

verb (used without object)
  1. to move in a seesaw manner: The boat seesawed in the heavy sea.

  2. to ride or play on a seesaw.

  1. to keep changing one's decision, opinion, or attitude; vacillate.

verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to move in a seesaw manner.

Origin of seesaw

1630–40 as part of a jingle accompanying a children's game; gradational compound based on saw1

regional variation note For seesaw

Although seesaw (def. 2) is the most widely used term in the U.S., teetertotter is also in wide use in the Northern, North Midland, and Western regions. Tilting board and its variants tilt board and tiltering board are New Eng. terms, especially Eastern New Eng., while tinter and its variant teenter are associated with Western New Eng. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use seesaw in a sentence

  • But when it comes to measurin' something that's precious to me, I'll not thrust it to a slight improvement on a see-saw.

    Mr. Dooley Says | Finley Dunne
  • For these two tendencies throughout the world are like a see-saw.

    Home Rule | Harold Spender
  • But no, there she was, shuffling down a side street with her heavy see-saw hip-motion.

    The Open Question | Elizabeth Robins
  • And we know the consequences of it—the sweet little see-saw of hope and fear, productive of unlimited discussion and anxiety.

British Dictionary definitions for seesaw


/ (ˈsiːˌsɔː) /

  1. a plank balanced in the middle so that two people seated on the ends can ride up and down by pushing on the ground with their feet

  2. the pastime of riding up and down on a seesaw

    • an up-and-down or back-and-forth movement

    • (as modifier): a seesaw movement

  1. (intr) to move up and down or back and forth in such a manner; oscillate

Origin of seesaw

C17: reduplication of saw 1, alluding to the movement from side to side, as in sawing

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