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

Examples from the Web for unsteadiness

Historical Examples of unsteadiness

  • And he laughed aloud, a laugh of utter confidence in spite of all its unsteadiness.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for unsteadiness



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 unsteadiness



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper