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

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Other Words from modulate

modulator \ ˈmä-​jə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce modulator (audio) \ noun
modulatory \ ˈmä-​jə-​lə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce modulatory (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 This passive, open state, a little like prayer (Howe is Catholic, and has written movingly about her faith), modulates surprisingly into politics. Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker, "Fanny Howe Makes Sense of Beginnings and Endings," 30 Sep. 2019 David Kross’s modulated performance as a German POW whose soccer skills kick him into the big leagues hits you particularly hard near the end. Randy Myers, The Mercury News, "SF Jewish Film Fest 2019 — 7 movies you need to see," 17 July 2019 Basically, the vapor cell turns into a purely optical radio wave detector with no need for any wires or circuitry and capable of measuring pulsed and modulated RF fields. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "We’re one step closer to atomic radio," 21 June 2019 Normal water levels in the Great Lakes are largely modulated by precipitation, natural springs, and rivers. The Washington Post, oregonlive, "Great Lakes overflowing with record amounts of water, thanks to ‘effects of a warming climate’," 6 June 2019 But as the numbers in her caucus have shifted Pelosi has modulated her language. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "Where Do Trump and the Democrats Stand as the Summer Recess Arrives?," 3 Aug. 2019 Further Reading Apple unveils the Pro Display XDR, a display unlike anything else on the market The Pro Display XDR has an edge-to-edge glass display with 576 blue LEDs, which are each modulated at 10 times the display's refresh rate. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Our first-look photos of Apple’s new Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR," 4 June 2019 Incredibly, while Armageddon blazes at warp speed, its cadence is masterfully modulated: Assaultive action scenes, jaw-dropping outer space shots and small, personal moments orbit in narrative harmony under Bay's confident hand. Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Armageddon': THR's 1998 Review," 1 July 2019 Crowe’s Ailes also modulates his voice according to circumstance, switching codes and putting on voices of authority. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "“The Loudest Voice” Eviscerates Roger Ailes and Fox News," 30 June 2019

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.

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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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Statistics for modulate

Last Updated

18 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for modulate

The first known use of modulate was in 1615

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More Definitions for modulate


How to pronounce modulate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of modulate

formal : 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
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 modulatory (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on modulate

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


to speed up the process or progress of

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