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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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 Hundreds of thousands of golf fans descend upon the desert course daily during the tournament — a PGA Tour-record 216,000 in 2018 — creating decibel levels more suited for a football game. John Marshall, ajc, 12 Feb. 2022 Not far behind is the 2013 Orange Out at CSU, where decibel levels in Moby were recorded as high as 125.6. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Feb. 2022 But the decibel level rose, slowly at first, before building to a crescendo with a flurry of Arizona backdoor layups and three-pointers. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2022 The two are conducting an affair with nonstop, high decibel shrieks, laughter, overly familiar conversations and behaviors and alcohol consumption. Roxane Gay, New York Times, 13 Mar. 2022 The sheer size and number of empty factories testify to the high-decibel, high-employment economy that flourished when shifts ran around the clock, between World War II and the 1980s, before global competition increased dramatically. John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Aug. 2021 In the aftermath, high-decibel shouts, whoops and laughter echoed from the visitor’s locker room into an adjacent media room. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Oct. 2021 In short, there’s a way to gauge the decibel level of your headphones. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 8 Feb. 2022 To be deemed feasible, the report says a barrier must be tall enough and long enough to reduce decibel levels by five at two spots behind the wall and capable of being constructed from an engineering standpoint. Suzanne Baker, chicagotribune.com, 8 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for decibel

Time Traveler

The first known use of decibel was in 1928

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Dictionary Entries Near decibel

deciare

decibel

decidable

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Statistics for decibel

Last Updated

14 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Decibel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decibel. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for decibel

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

More from Merriam-Webster on decibel

Nglish: Translation of decibel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about decibel

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