Etymology
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Words related to unsteady

un- (1)

prefix of negation, Old English un-, from Proto-Germanic *un- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German un-, Gothic un-, Dutch on-), from PIE *n- (source of Sanskrit a-, an- "not," Greek a-, an-, Old Irish an-, Latin in-), combining form of PIE root *ne- "not." Often euphemistic (such as untruth for "lie").

The most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- (1) the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.

It also makes words from phrases (such as uncalled-for, c. 1600; undreamed-of, 1630s; uncome-at-able, 1690s; unputdownable, 1947, of a book; un-in-one-breath-utterable, Ben Jonson; etc., but the habit is not restricted to un-; such as put-up-able-with, 1812). As a prefix in telegramese to replace not and save the cost of a word, it is attested by 1936.

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steady (adj.)
1520s, "firmly fixed in place or station" (replacing earlier steadfast), from stead + adjectival suffix -y (2), perhaps on model of Middle Dutch, Middle Low German stadig. Old English had stæððig "grave, serious," and stedig "barren," but neither seems to be the direct source of the modern word. Old Norse cognate stoðugr "steady, stable" was closer in sense. As an adverb from c. 1600.

Originally of things; of persons or minds from c. 1600. Meaning "working at an even rate" is first recorded in 1540s. Steady progress is etymologically a contradiction in terms. Steady state first attested 1885; as a cosmological theory (propounded by Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle), it is attested from 1948. Related: Steadily.
un- (2)
prefix of reversal, deprivation, or removal (as in unhand, undo, unbutton), Old English on-, un-, from Proto-Germanic *andi- (source also of Old Saxon ant-, Old Norse and-, Dutch ont-, Old High German ant-, German ent-, Gothic and- "against"), from PIE *anti "facing opposite, near, in front of, before, against" (from PIE root *ant- "front, forehead," with derivatives meaning "in front of, before").

More or less confused with un- (1) through similarity in the notions of "negation" and "reversal;" an adjective such as unlocked might represent "not locked" (un- (1)) or the past tense of unlock (un- (2)).
steady (v.)
1520s, transitive and intransitive, from steady (adj.). Related: Steadied; steadying.