AskDefine | Define seesaw

Dictionary Definition

seesaw n : a plaything consisting of a board balanced on a fulcrum; the board is ridden up and down by children at either end [syn: teeter-totter, teeterboard, tilting board, dandle board]


1 ride on a plank
2 move up and down as if on a seesaw
3 move unsteadily, with a rocking motion [syn: teeter, totter]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  1. A structure composed of a plank, balanced in the middle, used as a game in which one person goes up as the other goes down; a teeter-totter
  2. an up and down movement.



  • Czech: houpačka
  • French: balançoire, tapecul
  • German: Wippe , Schaukel , Schaukelbrett
  • Greek: τραμπάλα
  • Korean: 널
  • Spanish: balancín
  • Korean: 널뛰기


  1. To use a seesaw.
  2. To fluctuate


to use a seesaw
to fluctuate
  • German: schaukeln

Extensive Definition

A seesaw (also known as a teeter-totter) is a long, narrow board suspended in the middle so that, as one end goes up, the other goes down.
In a playground setting, the board is balanced in the exact center. A person sits on each end and they take turns pushing their feet against the ground to lift their end into the air. Playground seesaws usually have handles for the riders to grip as they sit facing each other. One problem with the seesaw's design is that if a child allows himself/herself to hit the ground suddenly after jumping, or exits the seesaw at the bottom, the other child may fall and be injured. For this reason, seesaws are often mounted above a soft surface such as foam or wood chips.
Seesaws, and the eagerness of children to play with them, are sometimes used to aid in mechanical processes. For example, at the Gaviotas community in Colombia, a children's seesaw is connected to a water pump.
In the United States a SeeSaw is also called a "teeter-totter". However, most commonly a "teeter-totter" is a two-person swing on a swing set, on which two children sit facing each other and the teeter-totter swings back and forth in a pendulum motion. According to Peter Trudgill, a linguistics expert who can trace all his great great-grandparents to a small patch of eastern Norfolk, this term originates from the Norfolk language word tittermatorter. Both teeter-totter (from teeter, as in to teeter on the edge) and seesaw (from the verb saw) demonstrate the linguistic process called reduplication, where a word or syllable is doubled, often with a different vowel. Reduplication is typical of words that indicate repeated activity, such as riding up and down on a seesaw.
Regional Note: The outdoor toy usually called a seesaw has a number of regional names, New England having the greatest variety in the smallest area. In southeast New England it can be referred to as a tilt or a tilting board. Speakers in northeast Massachusetts have been known to call it a teedle board; in the Narragansett Bay area the term changes to dandle or dandle board. These regional names are not very common, and have become antiquated. Children call it a seesaw more likely than not in Massachusetts. Teeter or teeterboard is used more generally in the northeast United States, while teeter-totter, probably the most common term after seesaw, is used across the inland northern states and westward to the West Coast.
For the mechanics of a seesaw, see lever. The simple mechanics of a seesaw make them appear frequently in school exam paper questions on mechanical problems.


seesaw in German: Wippe
seesaw in Spanish: Balancín (ocio)
seesaw in French: Tape-cul (loisir)
seesaw in Hebrew: נדנדה מאוזנת
seesaw in Dutch: Wip (speeltoestel)
seesaw in Japanese: シーソー
seesaw in Norwegian: Dumphuske
seesaw in Polish: Huśtawka na desce
seesaw in Portuguese: Balancé
seesaw in Simple English: Seesaw
seesaw in Swedish: Gungbräda
seesaw in Thai: กระดานหก
seesaw in Chinese: 蹺蹺板

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Ferris wheel, Lissajous figure, alternate, alternately, alternation, back and fill, back and forth, back-and-forth, backward and forward, backwards and forwards, battledore and shuttlecock, cant, carousel, chute-the-chutes, chutes, coaction, come and go, coming and going, complementary distribution, concurrence, cooperation, ebb and flow, engagement, flounder, fluctuate, flux and reflux, flying horses, go through phases, hitch and hike, in and out, incline, interaction, interchange, intercommunication, intercourse, interlacing, intermeshing, interplay, intertwining, interweaving, interworking, lean, list, lurch, merry-go-round, mesh, meshing, metronome, mutatis mutandis, off and on, oscillate, oscillator, pass and repass, pendulate, pendulum, pitch, quid pro quo, reciprocal, reciprocally, reciprocate, reciprocation, reciprocative, rhythmic play, ride and tie, ring the changes, rock, rocker, rocking chair, rocking stone, roll, roller coaster, round and round, roundabout, seesawing, shift, shuffle, shuttle, shuttlecock, shuttlewise, sine wave, stagger, swag, sway, swing, teeter, teeter-totter, teeter-tottering, teeterboard, teetering, teetery-bender, tilt, tilter, tit for tat, to and fro, to-and-fro, totter, tottering, turn, up and down, up-and-down, ups and downs, vacillate, vary, vibrator, vice versa, waver, wax and wane, whip, whirligig, wibble-wabble, wigwag, wobble, yaw, zigzag
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