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), un·stead·ied, un·stead·y·ing.

to make unsteady.

Origin of unsteady

First recorded in 1525–35; un-1 + steady
Related formsun·stead·i·ly, adverbun·stead·i·ness, noun

Synonyms for unsteady

1. See unsettled. 2. vacillating, flickering.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for unsteadily

haphazardly, roughly, choppily, ruggedly

Examples from the Web for unsteadily

Historical Examples of unsteadily

  • “I think I will go up and call on William,” she said, unsteadily.

    The Very Small Person

    Annie Hamilton Donnell

  • He rose to his feet, so unsteadily that his chair fell over with a bang.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

  • He goes off unsteadily; then from out of the luminous mists there appears the Jam-wagon.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • He found himself able to rise and his legs carried him unsteadily to the door.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht

  • "It is not the prize that we wish," returned Madge unsteadily.

    Madge Morton's Secret

    Amy D. V. Chalmers

British Dictionary definitions for unsteadily



not securely fixedan unsteady foothold
(of behaviour, etc) lacking constancy; erratic
without regularityan unsteady rhythm
(of a manner of walking, etc) precarious, staggering, as from intoxication

verb -steadies, -steadying or -steadied

(tr) to make unsteady
Derived Formsunsteadily, adverbunsteadiness, 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

Word Origin and History for unsteadily



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper