Whether it’s an unsteady ship, a speeding bus, or a person who is woozy, use the verb careen to describe something that’s teetering from side to side.

When the word careen first entered the English language in the sixteenth century, it was used to describe a beached ship that was turned on its side for repair. The word can still refer to making those kinds of nautical repairs, but now you’re more likely to hear the word used to describe something that is swaying from side to side. You may feel like a ship out of control if you careen madly through a crowd or if you careen down a steep hill on skis.

Definitions of careen
  1. verb
    move headlong at high speed
    synonyms: barrel, career
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    type of:
    go, locomote, move, travel
    change location; move, travel, or proceed, also metaphorically
  2. verb
    move sideways or in an unsteady way
    “The ship careened out of control”
    synonyms: shift, tilt, wobble
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    type of:
    move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion
  3. verb
    walk as if unable to control one's movements
    synonyms: keel, lurch, reel, stagger, swag
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    type of:
    use one's feet to advance; advance by steps
  4. noun
    pitching dangerously to one side
    synonyms: rock, sway, tilt
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    type of:
    lurch, pitch, pitching
    abrupt up-and-down motion (as caused by a ship or other conveyance)
Word Family
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