Definition of wobble in English:



  • 1Move or cause to move unsteadily from side to side.

    no object ‘the table wobbles where the leg is too short’
    with object ‘enthusiastic thumping may wobble the lectern’
    • ‘It was the day the world wobbled on its axis.’
    • ‘Resolved to fetch another drink, she slowly got up, her legs wobbling only slightly.’
    • ‘It then started wobbling from side to side and he became frightened.’
    • ‘Standing up, she tugged down at the tiny skirt, wobbling uncertainly in her tall heels.’
    • ‘He also kept wobbling back and forth, like he couldn't stand still.’
    • ‘I wobbled this way and that before I recovered my center of balance again.’
    • ‘My legs wobbled slightly, just adjusting to the floor beneath my feet.’
    • ‘I didn't even wobble in my heels.’
    • ‘He wavered and wobbled once back on his feet.’
    • ‘He pushed to the side, legs wobbling, and his hands found the door.’
    • ‘She then stood, up, wobbled dangerously and crashed back down into the sand.’
    • ‘He wobbled for a second before steadying himself again.’
    • ‘A tall blonde in a skimpy outfit came sauntering over to him, unsteady and wobbling on her heels.’
    • ‘By slow, painful steps I clambered to my feet, wobbling uncertainly on the rough wooden floor.’
    • ‘David raised his eyebrows, and his skull ring wobbled precariously.’
    • ‘I started to cry, my bottom lip wobbling all over the place.’
    • ‘In fact, the earthquake was so powerful that the Earth may have even wobbled on its axis.’
    • ‘Matthew wobbled dangerously for a moment as a result and almost pulled her down onto the ice.’
    • ‘Stubbornly she thrust herself upwards into a standing position and wobbled there uncertainly as her body protested.’
    rock, move unsteadily, jiggle, sway, see-saw, teeter
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    1. 1.1no object, with adverbial of direction Move unsteadily in a particular direction.
      ‘they wobble around on their bikes’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But it's wobbling in the direction of the same package leisure industry which gave us the gym.’
      • ‘Relieved, we wobbled up the stairs to the restaurant.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He staggered to his feet and wobbled to the back of the bar.’
      • ‘Mayberry's town drunk Otis Campbell weaved and wobbled his way into television history.’
      • ‘Nate wobbled up the stairs and looked into Suzan's bedroom.’
      • ‘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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    2. 1.2no object (of the voice) vary slightly in pitch; quaver.
      ‘her voice wobbled dangerously, but she brought it under control’
      • ‘"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.’
      • ‘I wasn't sure, but I think I heard his voice wobble a bit.’
      • ‘She tried to sound reprimanding, but her voice cracked and wobbled.’
      • ‘She met his eyes, her voice wobbled and she was shaking.’
      • ‘Her voice wobbled as it left her mouth - she was terrified.’
      • ‘She tried to sound firm when she spoke, but her voice wobbled pathetically in her own ears.’
      • ‘‘Jackson was… Jackson was a long time ago,’ Mrs. Davis whispered, voice wobbling.’
      • ‘Her voice was wobbling a bit, from suppressed tears.’
      • ‘His hands were still wrapped around the bars, but he dropped to his knees, his voice wobbled as he struggled to control himself.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘A little shaken,’ she admitted, wincing when her voice came out wobbling.’
      • ‘‘You cannot harm us,’ said the priestess of Elle, though her hands shook and her voice wobbled as well.’
      • ‘Rubenstein's voice wobbles and her dark eyes well up.’
      • ‘Listening to him, we all understand that radio was his destiny, but the very first time he went on air his voice did wobble.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘Not much,’ she answered, her voice wobbling on the last syllable.’
      • ‘Her smile was nervous and her voice wobbled a little, but the information she gave made up for any weakness in presentation.’
      tremble, shake, quiver, quaver, waver
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    3. 1.3no object Waver between different courses of action; vacillate.
      ‘he is beginning to wobble on the issue’
      • ‘He has wavered, wobbled, and wiggled about the war since it began.’
      • ‘It is therefore odd to watch him waver and wobble over an issue that is not only outrageously unjust, but also flagrantly illegal.’
      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.

    ‘the handlebars developed a wobble’
    • ‘Hence the initial wobble in the map of my homeward progress, showing me turning right, not left, out of the White Swan's doors.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It basically notes a wobble in a star caused by the gravity of the orbiting planet.’
    • ‘So we might surmise that a larger wobble should have a proportionally greater effect on the Earth's shape.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The actual length is unpredictable as the wobble can be affected by many variables, including tectonic movement.’
    • ‘At the Keck Observatory, it is now possible to measure extremely subtle star wobbles, so even smaller planets should soon turn up.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Panna cotta is a scalded, flavoured cream, set to a perfect wobble, turned out on to a plate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Just like a small wobble in the system shouldn't make that much of a difference.’
    • ‘Georgia, which placed third last year, had a few wobbles on balance beam in the final rotation but held on to second place.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There also appear to be harmonic steering wobbles which occur at speed.’
    • ‘Leaning into a 90 mph wind, a graph charts every movement, every wobble, in a trajectory that resembles the Alps.’
    • ‘It's a program called the Anglo-Australian Planet Search Program, and what you're looking for is stars whose motion encompasses a wobble.’
    • ‘However, he lost his momentum during the flip, and his carefully executed spin turned into a wobble, sending him crashing into the floor below.’
    • ‘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.’
    unsteady movement, totter, teeter, sway
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    1. 1.1 A variation of pitch in the voice.
      ‘a caricature of the operatic wobble’
      • ‘The high notes are no longer there, everything below mezzo-forte is weak, and the stability of the voice betrayed by occasional wobbles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Marietta Simpson's full, rich contralto never degenerates into wobble.’
      • ‘Far more troubling is the fearsome wobble in her voice that she only occasionally brings under control.’
      • ‘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 indecision or instability.
      ‘the only serious wobble of the campaign’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘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.’


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