[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 teetering

Contemporary Examples of teetering

Historical Examples of teetering

  • Only his mind was under attack, only his mind was afraid, teetering on the edge of control.

    The Dark Door

    Alan Edward Nourse

  • Uncle Marius came toward them, teetering on his toes, the way he always did.

    The Squirrel-Cage

    Dorothy Canfield

  • Teetering on his toes and watching the effect of it all on her, he lighted a large cigar.

    The Job

    Sinclair Lewis

  • Meet him in the woods, teetering along, and he is the less concerned of the two.

    In the Open

    Stanton Davis Kirkham

  • Every grass-stalk had one on it, teetering and singing away like anything.

    Miss Primrose

    Roy Rolfe Gilson

British Dictionary definitions for teetering



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 teetering



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