See more synonyms for unsteady on Thesaurus.com
  1. not steady or firm; unstable; shaky: an unsteady hand.
  2. fluctuating or wavering: an unsteady flame; unsteady prices.
  3. irregular or uneven: an unsteady development.
verb (used with object), un·stead·ied, un·stead·y·ing.
  1. 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

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. See unsettled. 2. vacillating, flickering.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for unsteady

Contemporary Examples of unsteady

Historical Examples of unsteady

  • As his hand neared the latch I could see in the dim light that his movements were unsteady.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • The strain upon him had been so great that his nerves and brain were unsteady.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • Blandois' hand was unsteady; but he laughed, and that would naturally shake it.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • They were done with some very poor instrument, and hurriedly, with an unsteady hand.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • He looked down at his sister with glittering and unsteady eyes.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

British Dictionary definitions for unsteady


  1. not securely fixedan unsteady foothold
  2. (of behaviour, etc) lacking constancy; erratic
  3. without regularityan unsteady rhythm
  4. (of a manner of walking, etc) precarious, staggering, as from intoxication
verb -steadies, -steadying or -steadied
  1. (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 unsteady

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper