modulate

verb mod·u·late \ ˈmä-jə-ˌlāt \
Updated on: 12 Nov 2017

Definition of modulate

modulated; modulating
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

modulator

play \-ˌlā-tər\ noun

modulatory

play \-lə-ˌtȯr-ē\ adjective

Examples of modulate in a Sentence

  1. Because she doesn't modulate her voice, she sounds the same when she's excited as when she's sad.

  2. The music quickly modulates from its original key, changing the mood of the song.

Recent Examples of modulate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of modulate

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


MODULATE Defined for English Language Learners

modulate

verb

Definition of modulate for English Language Learners

  • : to change the sound of (your voice) by making it quieter, higher, lower, etc.

  • music : to move gradually from one key to another

  • : to change or adjust (something) so that it exists in a balanced or proper amount


Medical Dictionary

modulate

transitive verb mod·u·late \ ˈmäj-ə-ˌlāt \

medical Definition of modulate

modulated; modulating
: to adjust to or keep in proper measure or proportion
  • modulate an immune response
  • modulate cell activity

modulatory

play \-lə-ˌtōr-ē, -ˌtȯr-\ adjective


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

food, provisions, or a tasty dish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!