[tee-ter]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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for teetered

Contemporary Examples of teetered

  • In the month since elections produced not one but two presidents, the country has teetered on the abyss of violence.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Civil War Looms in Ivory Coast

    Firouzeh Afsharnia

    January 3, 2011

Historical Examples of teetered

  • As she teetered out, it was plain that she was all but in a panic to get away.

  • 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.


    Philip Wylie

British Dictionary definitions for teetered



to move or cause to move unsteadily; wobble

noun, verb

another word for seesaw

Word Origin for teeter

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

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