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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce kilter (audio)

Dictionary definition of kilter

A state of balance or harmony, particularly in regard to physical or mental well-being.
"The sudden change in routine threw his whole schedule out of kilter."

Detailed meaning of kilter

It is often used to describe a person's sense of equilibrium or stability, both in terms of their physical health and their mental or emotional state. Examples of being in kilter might include feeling energized, alert, and focused, or being physically fit and agile. Conversely, being out of kilter might include feeling tired, sluggish, or unbalanced, or experiencing physical or mental symptoms that indicate a lack of well-being. Overall, the word "kilter" connotes a sense of harmony and equilibrium, particularly in relation to one's own body and mind.

Example sentences containing kilter

1. After the accident, her sense of balance was thrown off-kilter.
2. The sudden change in routine threw his day off-kilter.
3. The project's timeline was out of kilter due to unexpected delays.
4. The malfunctioning equipment put the entire production process out of kilter.
5. She struggled to get her life back in kilter after a period of personal turmoil.
6. The team's performance was off-kilter, resulting in a loss.

History and etymology of kilter

The noun 'kilter' has its etymological roots in Middle English and Old Norse. It is believed to be derived from the Old Norse word 'kiltr,' which means 'a ship's keel.' In Middle English, 'kilter' referred to the state or condition of something being in proper order or alignment, similar to a ship's keel maintaining balance. Over time, it evolved to describe a state of balance or harmony, particularly in regard to physical or mental well-being. When something is 'out of kilter,' it means it is not in its proper or balanced state. 'Kilter' is often used in phrases like 'out of kilter' to describe things that are disordered or not functioning as they should, emphasizing the need for restoration to a state of equilibrium or well-being.

Quiz: Find the meaning of kilter

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Further usage examples of kilter

1. His emotions were in kilter, and he couldn't make clear decisions.
2. The financial crisis threw the company's budget out of kilter.
3. The pandemic disrupted the economy, sending it out of kilter.
4. The miscommunication caused their plans to go completely off-kilter.
5. The lack of sleep left her thoughts and actions out of kilter.
6. The imbalance in workload put the team's productivity out of kilter.
7. The old clock was slightly out of kilter, causing it to chime at odd times.
8. The unexpected news sent his emotions out of kilter.
9. The faulty thermostat kept the room temperature constantly out of kilter.
10. The misalignment of the car's wheels threw its steering off-kilter.
11. His statement was slightly out of kilter with the facts of the situation.
12. The disorganized presentation put the speaker's thoughts out of kilter.
13. The mismatched colors in the painting gave it an off-kilter appearance.
14. The sudden arrival of guests threw the host's preparations out of kilter.



balance, imbalance, disorder, chaos


SAT 10 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Balance and Stability, Atmosphere and Mood

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