Definition of wobble in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Move unsteadily from side to side.

    ‘the table wobbles where the leg is too short’
    • ‘Matthew wobbled dangerously for a moment as a result and almost pulled her down onto the ice.’
    • ‘She then stood, up, wobbled dangerously and crashed back down into the sand.’
    • ‘I didn't even wobble in my heels.’
    • ‘He wavered and wobbled once back on his feet.’
    • ‘By slow, painful steps I clambered to my feet, wobbling uncertainly on the rough wooden floor.’
    • ‘In fact, the earthquake was so powerful that the Earth may have even wobbled on its axis.’
    • ‘He wobbled for a second before steadying himself again.’
    • ‘Standing up, she tugged down at the tiny skirt, wobbling uncertainly in her tall heels.’
    • ‘Resolved to fetch another drink, she slowly got up, her legs wobbling only slightly.’
    • ‘He pushed to the side, legs wobbling, and his hands found the door.’
    • ‘I wobbled this way and that before I recovered my center of balance again.’
    • ‘He also kept wobbling back and forth, like he couldn't stand still.’
    • ‘My legs wobbled slightly, just adjusting to the floor beneath my feet.’
    • ‘It was the day the world wobbled on its axis.’
    • ‘David raised his eyebrows, and his skull ring wobbled precariously.’
    • ‘A tall blonde in a skimpy outfit came sauntering over to him, unsteady and wobbling on her heels.’
    • ‘It then started wobbling from side to side and he became frightened.’
    • ‘Stubbornly she thrust herself upwards into a standing position and wobbled there uncertainly as her body protested.’
    • ‘I started to cry, my bottom lip wobbling all over the place.’
    rock, move unsteadily, jiggle, sway, see-saw, teeter
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    1. 1.1with object Cause to move unsteadily from side to side.
      • ‘Midway through round 3 Frazier caught Ellis with a brutal left hook to the chin, Ellis is wobbled for a brief second and you see the wind taken from his sail.’
      • ‘Once upon a time, when a band was super-catchy, whole throngs of scenesters were known to wobble a leg up and down in time to the music.’
    2. 1.2no object, with adverbial of direction Move unsteadily in a particular direction.
      ‘they wobble around on their bikes’
      • ‘Nate wobbled up the stairs and looked into Suzan's bedroom.’
      • ‘The little animal then staggered, wobbled and limped around for a few seconds before turning for the last time to his rescuers and wandering off back into nature.’
      • ‘Relieved, we wobbled up the stairs to the restaurant.’
      • ‘He staggered to his feet and wobbled to the back of the bar.’
      • ‘But it's wobbling in the direction of the same package leisure industry which gave us the gym.’
      • ‘Mayberry's town drunk Otis Campbell weaved and wobbled his way into television history.’
      • ‘I walked straight up towards Brandon, who wobbled down the hall in the opposite direction.’
      • ‘She looked over to him as he wobbled his way across the roof.’
      • ‘She wobbled back up the stairs and stood quietly in the doorway of her mother's room.’
      teeter, totter, stagger, walk unsteadily, lurch
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    3. 1.3 (of the voice) tremble; quaver.
      ‘her voice wobbled dangerously, but she brought it under control’
      • ‘My voice wobbles and sounds weak and whiny, I don't like it.’
      • ‘So we're given the impression of Connor's leg shaking and his voice wobbling.’
      • ‘Each time I hit a bump, my voice would wobble with the impact - I liked to ride along the bumpy parts of the road and try to keep my voice as even as possible.’
      • ‘She met his eyes, her voice wobbled and she was shaking.’
      • ‘Listening to him, we all understand that radio was his destiny, but the very first time he went on air his voice did wobble.’
      • ‘‘You cannot harm us,’ said the priestess of Elle, though her hands shook and her voice wobbled as well.’
      • ‘Her voice was wobbling a bit, from suppressed tears.’
      • ‘‘Jackson was… Jackson was a long time ago,’ Mrs. Davis whispered, voice wobbling.’
      • ‘His hands were still wrapped around the bars, but he dropped to his knees, his voice wobbled as he struggled to control himself.’
      • ‘I wasn't sure, but I think I heard his voice wobble a bit.’
      • ‘Her smile was nervous and her voice wobbled a little, but the information she gave made up for any weakness in presentation.’
      • ‘She tried to sound firm when she spoke, but her voice wobbled pathetically in her own ears.’
      • ‘‘Not much,’ she answered, her voice wobbling on the last syllable.’
      • ‘‘A little shaken,’ she admitted, wincing when her voice came out wobbling.’
      • ‘She tried to sound reprimanding, but her voice cracked and wobbled.’
      • ‘Her voice wobbled as it left her mouth - she was terrified.’
      • ‘Rubenstein's voice wobbles and her dark eyes well up.’
      • ‘"Drink it, " she said, her voice wobbling a little but confident.’
      • ‘Though his voice wobbled regularly, there was something in its fragility that suited his music, and the audience were only too ready to forgive him, given that there was a certain charm in his anxiety.’
      tremble, shake, quiver, quaver, waver
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    4. 1.4 Hesitate or waver between different courses of action; vacillate.
      ‘he is beginning to wobble on the issue’
      • ‘It is therefore odd to watch him waver and wobble over an issue that is not only outrageously unjust, but also flagrantly illegal.’
      • ‘He has wavered, wobbled, and wiggled about the war since it began.’
      waver, hesitate, vacillate, dither, shilly-shally, be undecided, be uncertain, be indecisive, be unable to make up one's mind, keep changing one's mind, yo-yo
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  • 1An unsteady movement from side to side.

    • ‘There also appear to be harmonic steering wobbles which occur at speed.’
    • ‘Just like a small wobble in the system shouldn't make that much of a difference.’
    • ‘Astronomers are able to detect the presence of a planet by examining a slight wobble in the motion of the star caused by the gravitational pull of the planet.’
    • ‘Leaning into a 90 mph wind, a graph charts every movement, every wobble, in a trajectory that resembles the Alps.’
    • ‘It basically notes a wobble in a star caused by the gravity of the orbiting planet.’
    • ‘Like a top, once its even spin turns into a reckless wobble, these things can be very, very hard to right once they fly out of control.’
    • ‘The actual length is unpredictable as the wobble can be affected by many variables, including tectonic movement.’
    • ‘Hence the initial wobble in the map of my homeward progress, showing me turning right, not left, out of the White Swan's doors.’
    • ‘At the Keck Observatory, it is now possible to measure extremely subtle star wobbles, so even smaller planets should soon turn up.’
    • ‘Milutin M. Milankovich, a Serbian mathematician, developed the idea that the Earth's rotational wobbles and orbital deviations have combined to affect in a cyclic way global climatic changes.’
    • ‘Since the field is uniform, the object appears to react to it as if it were a point in the palm of her hand - that is, it teeters and wobbles, but the force is distributed along the field, nonetheless.’
    • ‘Georgia, which placed third last year, had a few wobbles on balance beam in the final rotation but held on to second place.’
    • ‘More sensitive than any others in the world, they are able to measure effects never before measured, such as the rotation accompanying the waves from earthquakes and small wobbles in the Earth's rotation axis.’
    • ‘So we might surmise that a larger wobble should have a proportionally greater effect on the Earth's shape.’
    • ‘Russia's Svetlana Khorkina did not qualify for any final, suffering a break on uneven bars, wobbles on balance beam, and a hands-down landing on floor exercise.’
    • ‘However, he lost his momentum during the flip, and his carefully executed spin turned into a wobble, sending him crashing into the floor below.’
    • ‘I swear I saw him taking a sneaky blast from a small bottle of something warming when he thought no-one was watching, and he had a distinct wobble to his gait.’
    • ‘It was built on the track of an elephant trail and it was so rough that it rattled our bones and sent the radio antenna into a series of harmonic wobbles.’
    • ‘Panna cotta is a scalded, flavoured cream, set to a perfect wobble, turned out on to a plate.’
    • ‘It's a program called the Anglo-Australian Planet Search Program, and what you're looking for is stars whose motion encompasses a wobble.’
    unsteady movement, totter, teeter, sway
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    1. 1.1 A tremble or quaver in the voice.
      • ‘The high notes are no longer there, everything below mezzo-forte is weak, and the stability of the voice betrayed by occasional wobbles.’
      • ‘Far more troubling is the fearsome wobble in her voice that she only occasionally brings under control.’
      • ‘Marietta Simpson's full, rich contralto never degenerates into wobble.’
      • ‘With a slight wobble in his voice, he said his prostate cancer had spread to other parts of his body.’
      • ‘One of the children, aged about six kept making a noise. It was an extremely high pitched tone with pronounced wobble, loud and sustained, intermittently for an hour or so.’
      • ‘It was obvious that she was trying to take her mind off of things; her voice was low as not to betray the wobble that they all heard anyways.’
      tremor, quiver, quaver, shaking, trembling
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    2. 1.2 A moment of hesitation or vacillation.
      • ‘These normally nuanced characters briefly became vessels for issue-based polemic rather than wry, subtle dialogue - and even to unequivocal admirers, this is a serious wobble.’
      • ‘I understand that the wobble is not yours but a secondary, sympathetic wobble to Tony Blair's.’
      • ‘The party campaign had a wobble on Monday when a strange scheduling decision produced an inevitable picture in Castlebar.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, his concerns were serious enough to warrant a wobble: He understood the need to win the support of the Arab world, he just hadn't realised how little progress had been made.’
      • ‘It's cheering to find that Cole & Son, maker of wallpaper and paint since 1873, is not only back in business after a serious wobble in the late 1990s but is working flat out to meet demand.’
      • ‘Asked about the now-famous spring wobble, she says she ‘and lots of the people who feel close to the PM, who support him and believe what he is doing, rallied round’.’
      • ‘It has to be said that the wobbles have abated considerably over the past two weeks.’
      • ‘Other candidates either showed no detectable wobble, or else the results were indeterminate.’


Mid 17th century (earlier as wabble): of Germanic origin; compare with Old Norse vafla ‘waver’; related to the verb wave.