Definition of oscillate
1a : to swing backward and forward like a pendulum The fan was oscillating.b : to move or travel back and forth between two points he oscillates regularly between his comfortable home … and his downtown office-laboratory — Gladwin Hill
2 : to vary between opposing beliefs, feelings, or theories The mood of the voters has oscillated between optimism and pessimism.
3 : to vary above and below a mean value Bank rate oscillates between 2 and 6 percent.
oscillatoryplay \ˈä-sə-lə-ˌtȯr-ē\ adjective
Recent Examples of oscillate from the Web
Ever the performer, Saddam oscillated between denying knowledge of atrocities that occurred under his rule and proclaiming his own omnipotence.
With respect to global trends, both democratic and nondemocratic regimes have been generally stable, while relatively few countries have been oscillating between regime types.
These oscillating electrons then re-radiate the same frequency of light.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oscillate'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of oscillate
Latin oscillatus, past participle of oscillare to swing, from oscillum swing
First Known Use: 1726
Synonym Discussion of oscillate
OSCILLATE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of oscillate for English Language Learners
: to move in one direction and then back again many times
: to keep changing from one belief, feeling, condition, etc., to an opposite one
: to change in strength or direction regularly
OSCILLATE Defined for Kids
Definition of oscillate for Students
: to swing or move back and forth between two points
Seen and Heard
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