Definition of see-saw in English:


Line breaks: see-saw
Pronunciation: /ˈsiːsɔː


  • 1A long plank balanced in the middle on a fixed support, on each end of which children sit and swing up and down by pushing the ground alternately with their feet.
    More example sentences
    • This week some swings and see-saws have been put in the site.
    • There have already been hundreds of people coming to this park, and because there is such a big demand, we are planning on adding a second set of swings, see-saws, sand pit and benches.
    • Some brought see-saws, slides and swings to their frames.
  • 1.1A situation characterized by rapid, repeated changes from one state or condition to another: the emotional see-saw of a first love affair [as modifier]: see-saw interest rates
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    • The emotional see-saw of her life so far, with its successes and failures, knows few limits.
    • The intellectual see-saw continues as we're carefully guided through an ethical minefield of technologies.
    • Few contests ever have involved so much see-saw emotion.


[no object] Back to top  
  • 1Change rapidly and repeatedly from one position, situation, or condition to another and back again: the market see-sawed as rumours spread of an imminent cabinet reshuffle
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    • During that period his condition would see-saw and we were not sure if he would pull through.
    • The London Market's fortunes continued to see-saw yesterday as the City digested yet another dramatic session.
    • First, it is suggested that successive attempts to expound a Marxian theory of nature have see-sawed between naturalistic and social constructionist positions.
  • 1.1 [with object] Cause (something) to move back and forth or up and down rapidly and repeatedly: Sybil see-sawed the car back and forth
    More example sentencesSynonyms
    fluctuate, swing, go from one extreme to the other, go up and down, rise and fall, oscillate, alternate, yo-yo, teeter, be unstable, be unsteady, vary, shift, sway, ebb and flow


mid 17th century (originally used by sawyers as a rhythmical refrain): reduplication of the verb saw1 (symbolic of the sawing motion).

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grotesque quality or grotesque things collectively