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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.


  • IPA(key): /ʌnˈstɛdi/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛdi
  • Hyphenation: un‧steady


unsteady (comparative unsteadier, superlative unsteadiest)

  1. Not held firmly in position, physically unstable.
    A slightly unsteady item of furniture.
    • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter IV, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      "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. Lacking regularity or uniformity.
  3. Inconstant in purpose, or volatile in behavior.



Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


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

  1. To render unsteady, removing balance.