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[see-saw] /ˈsiˌsɔ/
a recreation in which two children alternately ride up and down while seated at opposite ends of a plank balanced at the middle.
a plank or apparatus for this recreation.
an up-and-down or a back-and-forth movement or procedure.
Whist. a crossruff.
moving up and down, back and forth, or alternately ahead and behind:
It was a seesaw game with the lead changing hands many times.
verb (used without object)
to move in a seesaw manner:
The boat seesawed in the heavy sea.
to ride or play on a seesaw.
to keep changing one's decision, opinion, or attitude; vacillate.
verb (used with object)
to cause to move in a seesaw manner.
1630-40 as part of a jingle accompanying a children's game; gradational compound based on saw1
Regional variation note
Although seesaw (def. 2) is the most widely used term in the U.S., teetertotter is also in wide use in the Northern, North Midland, and Western regions. Tilting board and its variants tilt board and tiltering board are New Eng. terms, especially Eastern New Eng., while tinter and its variant teenter are associated with Western New Eng. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for seesaw
  • Balanced with the earners on one side of the seesaw, and the layabouts on the other.
  • Inspired by a seesaw, he devised a swinging lever that tightened the mainspring as it moved.
  • Spilling over with humor, vulnerability and feistiness, his performance almost succeeds in balancing the stylistic seesaw.
  • The seesaw is made from wooden planks and cinder blocks.
  • As the load is added to the seesaw, the moment is increased on the right side.
British Dictionary definitions for seesaw


a plank balanced in the middle so that two people seated on the ends can ride up and down by pushing on the ground with their feet
the pastime of riding up and down on a seesaw
  1. an up-and-down or back-and-forth movement
  2. (as modifier) a seesaw movement
(intransitive) to move up and down or back and forth in such a manner; oscillate
Word Origin
C17: reduplication of saw1, alluding to the movement from side to side, as in sawing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for seesaw
1640, in see-saw-sacke a downe, words in a rhythmic jingle used by children and repetitive motion workers, probably imitative of the rhythmic back-and-forth motion of sawyers working a two-man saw over wood or stone (see saw). Ref. to a game of going up and down on a balanced plank is recorded from 1704; fig. sense is from 1714. Applied from 1824 to the plank arranged for the game. The verb is from 1712.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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seesaw in Technology

An early system on the IBM 701.
[Listed in CACM 2(5):16 (May 1959)].

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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