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 linguist Peter Trudgill, 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. [ "teeter-totter" listing in ] ]

"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. [ "teeter-totter"] ]

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.


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  • Seesaw — See saw , n. [Probably a reduplication of saw, to express the alternate motion to and fro, as in the act of sawing.] 1. A play among children in which they are seated upon the opposite ends of a plank which is balanced in the middle, and move… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Seesaw — See saw , v. t. To cause to move backward and forward in seesaw fashion. [1913 Webster] He seesaws himself to and fro. Ld. Lytton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • seesaw — [sē′sô΄] n. [redupl. of SAW1: from the action of sawing] 1. a plank balanced on a support at the middle, used by children at play, who ride the ends so that when one goes up, the other comes down 2. the act of riding a plank in this way 3. any up …   English World dictionary

  • Seesaw — See saw , v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Seesawad}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Seesawing}.] To move with a reciprocating motion; to move backward and forward, or upward and downward. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Seesaw — See saw , a. Moving up and down, or to and fro; having a reciprocating motion. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • seesaw — index beat (pulsate), oscillate, vacillate Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • seesaw — 1630s, 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 (Cf. saw)).… …   Etymology dictionary

  • seesaw — [[t]si͟ːsɔː[/t]] seesaws, seesawing, seesawed also see saw 1) N COUNT A seesaw is a long board which is balanced on a fixed part in the middle. To play on it, a child sits on each end, and when one end goes up, the other goes down. There was a… …   English dictionary

  • seesaw n — Mr. See owned a saw. And Mr. Soar owned a seesaw. Now, See s saw sawed Soar s seesaw Before Soar saw See, Which made Soar sore. Had Soar seen See s saw Before See sawed Soar s seesaw, See s saw would not have sawed Soar s seesaw. So See s saw… …   English expressions

  • seesaw — /see saw /, n. 1. a recreation in which two children alternately ride up and down while seated at opposite ends of a plank balanced at the middle. 2. a plank or apparatus for this recreation. 3. an up and down or a back and forth movement or… …   Universalium

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