fluc·​tu·​ate | \ ˈflək-chə-ˌwāt How to pronounce fluctuate (audio) , -chü-ˌāt \
fluctuated; fluctuating

Definition of fluctuate

intransitive verb

1 : to shift back and forth uncertainly Oil prices fluctuated. Temperatures fluctuated.
2 : to rise and fall in or as if in waves The boat fluctuated on the rough sea.

transitive verb

: to cause to fluctuate

Synonyms & Antonyms for fluctuate



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Choose the Right Synonym for fluctuate

swing, sway, oscillate, vibrate, fluctuate, waver, undulate mean to move from one direction to its opposite. swing implies a movement of something attached at one end or one side. the door suddenly swung open sway implies a slow swinging or teetering movement. trees swaying in the breeze oscillate stresses a usually regular alternation of direction. an oscillating fan vibrate suggests the rapid oscillation of an elastic body under stress or impact. the vibrating strings of a piano fluctuate suggests constant irregular changes of level, intensity, or value. fluctuating interest rates waver stresses irregular motion suggestive of reeling or tottering. the exhausted runner wavered before collapsing undulate suggests a gentle wavelike motion. an undulating sea of grass

Examples of fluctuate in a Sentence

His popularity has fluctuated during his term in office. In the desert, the temperature fluctuates dramatically.
Recent Examples on the Web The cost of Platinum was $932 per ounce, Palladium is $2,282 per ounce and Rhodium is $14,300 an ounce as of Sept. 19, according to moneymetals.com, though the prices fluctuate daily. The Indianapolis Star, 20 Sep. 2022 Madarasz says the prices for these collector items fluctuate greatly based on how much people value them at the time. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, 16 May 2022 Watching how benchmark test scores fluctuate over the next few years will be critical. Lily Altavena, Detroit Free Press, 13 Apr. 2022 Folks planning and saving for retirement should keep an eye on how consumer prices fluctuate compared to inflation. Joseph Lucey, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021 Projects will then fluctuate up and down in the public rankings. Steven Zeitchik, Washington Post, 14 July 2022 The deputy added the incident is an example on how the weather can drastically fluctuate from cold to warm in the Denver area, meaning ice may not be thick. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2022 The ranunculus typically reach peak bloom in April though the exact dates fluctuate from year to year. Jessica Poitevien, Travel + Leisure, 11 Jan. 2022 Cycle length can vary greatly from woman to woman, and even fluctuate from month to month. Christine Yu, Outside Online, 6 Sep. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of fluctuate

1604, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2

History and Etymology for fluctuate

Latin fluctuatus, past participle of fluctuare, from fluctus flow, wave, from fluere — more at fluid

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Time Traveler for fluctuate

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The first known use of fluctuate was in 1604

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Last Updated

25 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fluctuate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fluctuate. Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for fluctuate


fluc·​tu·​ate | \ ˈflək-chə-ˌwāt How to pronounce fluctuate (audio) \
fluctuated; fluctuating

Kids Definition of fluctuate

: to change continually and especially up and down The temperature fluctuated.

More from Merriam-Webster on fluctuate

Nglish: Translation of fluctuate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fluctuate for Arabic Speakers


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