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 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 In this version of the R, the seven-speed DSG gearbox offers Special and Drift modes to help modulate power to the wheels. Eric Adams, Popular Mechanics, "The Most Anticipated Cars of 2021," 7 Dec. 2020 All this will help drivers keep control and better modulate power delivery while power-sliding around turns. Eric Adams, Popular Mechanics, "The Most Anticipated Cars of 2021," 7 Dec. 2020 Because mAbs bind very specifically to targets, clinicians can use them to modulate specific pathways. Scientific American, "An Ongoing Revolution in Blood Cancer," 1 Dec. 2020 Lastly, Ferrari says the Portofino M's brake pedal has slightly less travel and is easier to modulate. Mike Sutton, Car and Driver, "Ferrari Portofino M Is a 612-HP Update to Ferrari's Starter GT," 16 Sep. 2020 An initial dead zone in the pedal stroke is followed by aggressive bite that's difficult to modulate. David Beard, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE Refines an Off-Road Icon," 26 Oct. 2020 The feature is designed to ostensibly modulate the driver's throttle inputs to allow the car to step out and hold a powerslide when asked to do so. Bradley Iger, Ars Technica, "Lamborghini’s Huracán Evo RWD is made for maximum fun, not lap times," 25 Oct. 2020 Move the stick side to side to control the ailerons—the adjustable control surfaces at the edge of the wings, which modulate the angle of bank in a turn. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, "A Pilot’s Son Takes Flight," 17 Oct. 2020 In addition to smart harvesting combines, the company is also developing technology using cameras to inspect individual plants and weeds in a field to modulate the amount of fertilizer and pesticides applied based on need. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "A.I. gets down in the dirt as precision agriculture takes off," 5 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for modulate

Time Traveler

The first known use of modulate was in 1615

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Statistics for modulate

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Modulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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 modulate (audio) \ adjective

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