mod·​u·​late | \ ˈmä-jə-ˌlāt How to pronounce modulate (audio) \
modulated; modulating

Definition of modulate

transitive verb

1 : to tune to a key or pitch
2 : to adjust to or keep in proper measure or proportion : temper
3 : to vary the amplitude, frequency, or phase of (a carrier wave or a light wave) for the transmission of information (as by radio) also : to vary the velocity of electrons in an electron beam

intransitive verb

1 : to play or sing with modulation
2 : to pass from one musical key into another by means of intermediary chords or notes that have some relation to both keys
3 : to pass gradually from one state to another

Other Words from modulate

modulator \ ˈmä-​jə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce modulate (audio) \ noun
modulatory \ ˈmä-​jə-​lə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce modulate (audio) \ adjective

Examples of modulate in a Sentence

Because she doesn't modulate her voice, she sounds the same when she's excited as when she's sad. The music quickly modulates from its original key, changing the mood of the song.
Recent Examples on the Web Guenther: Or possibly even implanted electrodes that modulate activity in particular parts of the basal ganglia circuit. Karen Hopkin, Scientific American, 13 Apr. 2022 Over the years, O'Shaughnessey has learned how to modulate her voice for different characters as part of honing her craft. Christian Holub,, 9 Apr. 2022 Broderick and Parker modulate their physical and vocal performances throughout, working up to a hint of crassness that never becomes cartoonish in the final act. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Mar. 2022 Researchers are also looking at evidence that that some neuromodulators modulate one another. Quanta Magazine, 22 Mar. 2022 The company will use the money to expand commercial operations, product development and clinical evidence for its neuro-stimulation system that delivers electrical pulses to the nervous system to modulate pain signals to the brain. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Mar. 2022 The brakes are capable and easy to modulate, and unlike the Ioniq 5, the EV6 doesn't tend to bob and bounce when driven aggressively on bumpy surfaces. Jens Meiners, Car and Driver, 10 Jan. 2022 The final note worth mentioning is the iX sound, composed specially for this car by the celebrated composer Hans Zimmer, which the driver can modulate through the throttle paddle. Nargess Banks, Forbes, 25 Dec. 2021 The ability to modulate muscular contractions diminishes with fatigue. Outside Online, 20 Feb. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of modulate

1615, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for modulate

Latin modulatus, past participle of modulari to play, sing, from modulus small measure, rhythm, diminutive of modus measure — more at mete

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Time Traveler for modulate

Time Traveler

The first known use of modulate was in 1615

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Dictionary Entries Near modulate



modulated continuous waves

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Last Updated

18 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Modulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for modulate


transitive verb
mod·​u·​late | \ ˈmäj-ə-ˌlāt How to pronounce modulate (audio) \
modulated; modulating

Medical Definition of modulate

: to adjust to or keep in proper measure or proportion modulate an immune response modulate cell activity

Other Words from modulate

modulatory \ -​lə-​ˌtōr-​ē, -​ˌtȯr-​ How to pronounce modulate (audio) \ adjective


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