good condition; order: The engine was out of kilter.
Poker. skeet2.

1630–40; variant of dial. kelter < ? Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
kilter or kelter (ˈkɪltə)
working order or alignment (esp in the phrases off kilter, out of kilter)
[C17: origin unknown]
kelter or kelter
[C17: origin unknown]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

in out of kilter (1628) variant of Eng. dial. kelter (1606) "good condition, order," of unknown origin.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see out of kilter.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Some stand out of kilter as the piles that support them gradually sink into the marshy subsoil.
Otherwise the balance between nature and humans goes out of kilter.
We spend a lot of time wondering why our lives-and the world-seem so oddly out of kilter.
The degree to which the electrons move out of kilter indicates the number of photons present.
Idioms & Phrases
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