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Related to unsteadiness: lightheadedness


adj. un·stead·i·er, un·stead·i·est
1. Not firm, solid, or securely in place; unstable.
2. Fluctuating; changeable: an unsteady market.
3. Not even or regular; wavering: an unsteady voice.
tr.v. un·stead·ied, un·stead·y·ing, un·stead·ies
To cause to become unsteady.

un·stead′i·ly adv.
un·stead′i·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




  1. Flounder around like a fish on the beach —Anon

    A commonly used variation: “Flounder around like a beached whale.”

  2. Floundered like a waterlogged ship —James Hilton
  3. Floundered like insects in yogurt —George F. Will, about those involved in Watergate crimes
  4. Floundering like someone running in deep sand, blind without glasses, burdened with books —George Garrett
  5. Flounder like a compass that’s lost its needle —Anon

    A variation: “Flounder like a windup watch without a dial.”

  6. (Was solidly built but) gave the impression of not being very stable, like a building with imperfect foundations —MacDonald Harris
  7. Reel like a leaf that’s drawn to a water-wheel —Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  8. Stagger like a drunken man —The Holy Bible/The Psalms
  9. Staggers slightly … like a carnival clown —Hilary Masters
  10. Staggers to his feet like a battered middleweight coming out for the fifteenth round —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  11. Stumbled … like an old woman leaning on a cane that wasn’t there —Ross Macdonald
  12. Stumbled like fat sheep —Stephen Crane
  13. Stumbling a little over his own feet like an adolescent not accustomed to his new growth —Margaret Millar
  14. Tumbling … like a moth blinded by sudden brightness —Jerzy Kosinski
  15. Unconstant as the wind; as wavering as the weathercock —William Walker
  16. Unstable as water —The Holy Bible/Genesis
  17. (She seemed volatile right now,) unstable, like a vial of nitroglycerin —Sue Grafton
  18. Unsteady like a pole balanced on the tip of one’s finger —Arthur Schopenhauer
  19. Wavering as the wind —John Heywood’s Proverbs

    Modernized from the Old English: “Waueryng as the wynde.”

  20. Wobbled like an overfed penguin —Len Deighton
  21. (His new English) wobbles like a first bicycle —Diane Ackerman
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.unsteadiness - the quality of not being steady or securely fixed in placeunsteadiness - the quality of not being steady or securely fixed in place
movability, movableness - the quality of being movable; capable of being moved or rearranged
steadiness, firmness - the quality of being steady or securely and immovably fixed in place
2.unsteadiness - the quality of being unsteady--varying and unpredictableunsteadiness - the quality of being unsteady--varying and unpredictable
unregularity, irregularity - not characterized by a fixed principle or rate; at irregular intervals
unstableness, instability - the quality or attribute of being unstable and irresolute
steadiness - the quality of being steady--regular and unvarying
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. The quality or condition of being physically unsteady:
2. The quality or condition of being erratic and undependable:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


[ˈʌnˈstedɪnɪs] N [of chair, ladder, structure] → inestabilidad f, inseguridad f; [of sb's steps, walk] → lo vacilante, inseguridad f; [of voice, hand] → temblor m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


n (of hand, legs, steps)Unsicherheit f; (of ladder)Wack(e)ligkeit f; (of flame)Flackern nt; (of voice, economy)Schwanken nt; (of progress)Ungleichmäßigkeit f; (of growth)Unregelmäßigkeit f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
References in classic literature ?
After such behaviour, as I have witnessed during the last month, to Miss Smithsuch attentions as I have been in the daily habit of observingto be addressing me in this mannerthis is an unsteadiness of character, indeed, which I had not supposed possible!
No, upon my honour, there is no unsteadiness of character.
Her heart and her judgment were equally against Edmund's decision: she could not acquit his unsteadiness, and his happiness under it made her wretched.
People told him he was unemotional; but he knew that he was at the mercy of his emotions: an accidental kindness touched him so much that sometimes he did not venture to speak in order not to betray the unsteadiness of his voice.
There I stood some while, a little dizzy with the unsteadiness of all around me, perhaps a little afraid, and yet vastly pleased with these strange sights; the captain meanwhile pointing out the strangest, and telling me their names and uses.
These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice with which a factious spirit has tainted our public administrations.
Each pedestrian could see no halo but his or her own, which never deserted the head-shadow, whatever its vulgar unsteadiness might be; but adhered to it, and persistently beautified it; till the erratic motions seemed an inherent part of the irradiation, and the fumes of their breathing a component of the night's mist; and the spirit of the scene, and of the moonlight, and of Nature, seemed harmoniously to mingle with the spirit of wine.
"And might have left his property so respectable, to them that's never been used to extravagance or unsteadiness in no manner of way--and not so poor but what they could have saved every penny and made more of it.
There was no shrinking in her face, there was no unsteadiness in her voice as she answered him.
A harsh laugh from Comrade Ossipon cut the tirade dead short in a sudden faltering of the tongue and a bewildered unsteadiness of the apostle's mildly exalted eyes.
Recalled by his request, preferred in quite another tone of voice, I did the honours of the shaving-pot; but I did them with an unsteadiness of hand, a sudden sense of being no match for him, and a perplexed suspicious anxiety as to what he might be going to say next, which I felt could not escape his observation.
It was her husband leaving the house, a fine figure of a man, but a dissipated face, and a step even now distinguished by the extreme caution which precedes unsteadiness. He broke the spell.