decibel

noun
deci·​bel | \ ˈde-sə-ˌbel How to pronounce decibel (audio) , -bəl How to pronounce decibel (audio) \

Definition of decibel

1a : a unit for expressing the ratio of two amounts of electric or acoustic signal power equal to 10 times the common logarithm of this ratio
b : a unit for expressing the ratio of the magnitudes of two electric voltages or currents or analogous acoustic quantities equal to 20 times the common logarithm of the voltage or current ratio
2 : a unit for expressing the relative intensity of sounds on a scale from zero for the average least perceptible sound to about 130 for the average pain level
3 : degree of loudness also : extremely loud sound usually used in plural

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Did You Know?

The unit for measuring the relative intensities of sound is called a decibel. Because the decibel scale is logarithmic, a sound with an intensity that is twice that of a reference sound corresponds to an increase of little more than 3 decibels. In common practice, the reference point of 0 decibel is set at the intensity of the least perceptible sound, the threshold of hearing. On such a scale a 10-decibel sound is 10 times the intensity of the reference sound; a 20-decibel sound is 100 times the reference intensity, and so on. Normal conversation is usually around 60 decibels, an electric saw around 100 decibels, and amplified rock music around 120 decibels.

Examples of decibel in a Sentence

a rock concert blasting music at 110 decibels the crowd decibels increased dramatically as the horses neared the finish line
Recent Examples on the Web An acoustic drum set is a high-decibel instrument with low frequencies particularly suited to spreading. New York Times, "How to Soundproof a Room," 12 Jan. 2021 Intentional room configurations and choice of materials can optimize acoustics, allowing irrelevant conversations to fade and dampening background noise—even the normal decibel level of a traditional office increases the risk of high blood pressure. Sonner Kehrt, Wired, "The ‘Healthy Building’ Surge Will Outlast the Pandemic," 15 Dec. 2020 This classic twin-bell alarm clock has the distinct decibel levels of clanging metal, and will jolt you out of bed. Popsci Commerce Team, Popular Science, "Alarm clocks for a charming start to your morning," 28 Nov. 2020 During interviews, the soft-spoken Minnesotan typically replies in something of a low-decibel hum. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Texas hopes F Jericho Sims will soar in his senior season," 13 Nov. 2020 The Saints are 6-2 and the injury plagued 49ers are 4-5.The decibel level won't be quite as high this time either. Rod Walker, NOLA.com, "Walker: Saints vs. 49ers have mighty tough act to follow after 2019 classic in Superdome," 13 Nov. 2020 But normally all the messy complications of hosting a high-decibel political event are balanced off by the prestige — the world is watching; celebrities arrive. Gail Collins New York Times, Star Tribune, "Debate number two and a half: Introducing the Trump-muter," 22 Oct. 2020 Download a decibel-measuring app like Sound Meter to test the volumes on your machine at home before using it in your car. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, "8 Ways to Keep Your Baby Calm and Content on a Road Trip," 26 Oct. 2020 Still, the 2020 Election has strained their relationship with higher-decibel exchanges, as neither take the stakes of modern politics lightly. Brian Gordon, USA TODAY, "Husband likes Biden, wife likes Trump; this election has tested the state of their union," 24 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decibel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of decibel

1928, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for decibel

International Scientific Vocabulary deci- + bel

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Learn More about decibel

Time Traveler for decibel

Time Traveler

The first known use of decibel was in 1928

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Statistics for decibel

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decibel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decibel. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for decibel

decibel

noun

English Language Learners Definition of decibel

technical : a unit for measuring how loud a sound is

decibel

noun
deci·​bel | \ ˈde-sə-ˌbel How to pronounce decibel (audio) , -bəl \

Kids Definition of decibel

: a unit for measuring the loudness of sounds

decibel

noun
deci·​bel | \ ˈdes-ə-bəl How to pronounce decibel (audio) , -ˌbel How to pronounce decibel (audio) \

Medical Definition of decibel

1a : a unit for expressing the ratio of two amounts of electric or acoustic signal power equal to 10 times the common logarithm of this ratio
b : a unit for expressing the ratio of the magnitudes of two electric voltages or currents or analogous acoustic quantities equal to 20 times the common logarithm of the voltage or current ratio
2 : a unit for expressing the relative intensity of sounds on a scale from zero for the average least perceptible sound to about 130 for the average pain level

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More from Merriam-Webster on decibel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decibel

Nglish: Translation of decibel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about decibel

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