Definition of teeter in English:


Line breaks: tee¦ter
Pronunciation: /ˈtiːtə


[no object, usually with adverbial]
  • 1Move or balance unsteadily; sway back and forth: she teetered after him in her high-heeled sandals
    More example sentences
    • Cows wander the streets, ragged children pester dogs with sticks, tailors teeter past on bicycles balancing bolts of fabric.
    • My legs, which I was already teetering on with dubious balance, seemed to give out and I collapsed, curling into a miserable ball under the glass.
    • I heard heavy footsteps on the porch steps and glanced over as the guy almost fell but grabbed the railing, teetering to the left unsteadily with a quiet laugh.
    totter, walk unsteadily, wobble, toddle; sway, rock, try to keep one's balance; stagger, stumble, reel, roll, lurch, pitch; Scottish stot
  • 1.1 (often teeter between) Be unable to decide between different courses; waver: she teetered between tears and anger
    More example sentences
    • And the market simply teeters back and forth, worrying and then feeling relieved again.
    • Over the past 29 months, the family has teetered back and forth between several of the possibilities, convinced at times of one, then another.
    • At the very least, feminists should be considering these legal alternatives, while the Court teeters in the balance.
    see-saw, veer, fluctuate, oscillate, swing, yo-yo, alternate; waver, wobble; North American teeter-totter


teeter on the brink (or edge)

Be very close to a difficult or dangerous situation: the country teetered on the brink of civil war they are teetering on the edge of exhaustion
More example sentences
  • Village shops continued to close while others teetered on the brink although community-owned shops, Internet retailing and home delivery schemes were becoming more popular.
  • It's certainly ambitious and unusual, a traditional story told in a bravura, experimental style, which at times is hilarious but at others teeters on the edge of tedium.
  • It teeters on the brink of journalistic disloyalty.


mid 19th century: variant of dialect titter, from Old Norse titra 'shake, shiver'.

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