echo·​lo·​ca·​tion | \ ˌe-kō-lō-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce echolocation (audio) \

Definition of echolocation

: a physiological process for locating distant or invisible objects (such as prey) by sound waves reflected back to the emitter (such as a bat) from the objects

Examples of echolocation in a Sentence

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He and co-author Xiaoyan Yin, a doctoral student in his lab, pursued two methods of testing whether the ears might actually move fast enough to produce Doppler shifts of their own—and what that might mean for echolocation. Richard Conniff, Scientific American, "In the Wiggle of an Ear, a Surprising Insight into Bat Sonar," 17 June 2019 Large ears actually have little to do with echolocation, the bat's built-in sonar that sends out sound waves and detects the echo bouncing off a prey item, such as a moth. Liz Langley, National Geographic, "This animal has the biggest ears on Earth (relative to size)," 12 Apr. 2019 Orcas find their food by echolocation, and vessel disturbance hurts their ability to find food. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "Another southern resident orca is ailing — and at least three whales are pregnant," 25 Sep. 2018 This switch between eavesdropping and echolocation is pretty intuitive. William Herkewitz, Popular Mechanics, "When Humans Make Too Much Noise, Bats Just Change How They Hunt," 15 Sep. 2016 The beasts tend to make clicking and buzzing sounds while in the deep sea, about 700 to 2,000 feet down, and buzzed quite a bit in one particular fjord, likely using echolocation while hunting shrimp and cod. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Researchers Record the Sounds of the Elusive Narwhal," 15 June 2018 To find high-quality surface waters, people could observe bat activity levels using acoustic detectors to record bats’ echolocation calls. Theresa Laverty, Smithsonian, "Where Clean Drinking Water Is Hard To Find, Bats Could Lead the Way," 2 May 2018 Such testing, some studies say, harms mammals that rely on echolocation to associate and feed and could frighten away fish that commercial and recreation fisheries need to survive. The Washington Post,, "Zinke: Oil, gas exploration off Oregon coast might not happen," 13 Mar. 2018 These pulses also allow them to detect their whereabouts, similar to how bats use echolocation. Natalie Escobar, Smithsonian, "The Shocking World of Electric Fishes," 20 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'echolocation.' 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 echolocation

circa 1944, in the meaning defined above

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Dictionary Entries near echolocation






echo organ


Statistics for echolocation

Last Updated

2 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for echolocation

The first known use of echolocation was circa 1944

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More from Merriam-Webster on echolocation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with echolocation Encyclopedia article about echolocation

Comments on echolocation

What made you want to look up echolocation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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