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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 W[illiam] 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.