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From un- +‎ steady. Like steady, the word first appeared in English around 1530. The word is comparable to Old Frisian onstedich, Low German unstadig, etc.


unsteady (comparative unsteadier, superlative unsteadiest)

  1. Not held firmly in position, physically unstable.
    A slightly unsteady item of furniture.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter IV, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: A. L. Burt Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 4241346:
      "Mid-Lent, and the Enemy grins," remarked Selwyn as he started for church with Nina and the children. Austin, knee-deep in a dozen Sunday supplements, refused to stir; poor little Eileen was now convalescent from grippe, but still unsteady on her legs; her maid had taken the grippe, and now moaned all day: []"
  2. Noted for lack of regularity or uniformity.
  3. Inconstant in purpose, or volatile in behavior.




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unsteady (third-person singular simple present unsteadies, present participle unsteadying, simple past and past participle unsteadied)

  1. To render unsteady, removing balance.