oscillate

verb
os·​cil·​late | \ ˈä-sə-ˌlāt \
oscillated; oscillating

Definition of oscillate

intransitive verb

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.

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Other Words from oscillate

oscillatory \ ˈä-​sə-​lə-​ˌtȯr-​ē \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for oscillate

swing, sway, oscillate, vibrate, fluctuate, waver, undulate mean to move from one direction to its opposite. swing implies a movement of something attached at one end or one side. the door suddenly swung open sway implies a slow swinging or teetering movement. trees swaying in the breeze oscillate stresses a usually regular alternation of direction. an oscillating fan vibrate suggests the rapid oscillation of an elastic body under stress or impact. the vibrating strings of a piano fluctuate suggests constant irregular changes of level, intensity, or value. fluctuating interest rates waver stresses irregular motion suggestive of reeling or tottering. the exhausted runner wavered before collapsing undulate suggests a gentle wavelike motion. an undulating sea of grass

Examples of oscillate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

These days the emotional timbre of the Steyer house oscillates between the dire and the gleeful: The world is a wreck, but we are so pumped up about saving it! Rob Haskell, Vogue, "Billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer on Impeaching Trump, Getting Out the Vote, and Winning in 2020," 14 Nov. 2018 The broad black stripes of the wall mural oscillate too, between pattern and figure, flatness and depth. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "For Nathan Hayden at CB1 Gallery, the smaller the canvas, the bigger the effect," 13 Mar. 2018 Wind and weather conditions on the lakes can form a massive, dangerous wave known as a seiche, which will oscillate back and forth across the lake for hours or days. Jenae Sitzes, Country Living, "These Unbelievable Photos of Lake Erie Show How Powerful Nature Can Be," 17 Feb. 2017 Yields, which fall as bond prices rise, oscillated around the flatline overnight as data showed French producer prices ticking higher in June and German business sentiment slipping in July. Akane Otani, WSJ, "U.S. Bond Prices Edge Higher With Stocks," 25 July 2018 Save for one brief return to brunette in 2013, Witherspoon has oscillated ever so slightly between lighter and darker shades of blonde but this light spun gold look is one of her best. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "15 Celebrities Who Prove a Dye Job Makes a Huge Difference," 18 Oct. 2018 The incumbent, President Michel Temer, whose popularity has oscillated in the single digits for much of his tenure, has decided not to run. New York Times, "Mexico Delivers Another Defeat to the Status Quo in Latin America," 2 July 2018 The creation of that water column also produces a small bubble under the water column which oscillates 5,000 times a second. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The Physics Behind a Leaky Faucet’s Maddening ‘Plink’," 25 June 2018 Instead, the bubble will oscillate a bit and settle at a radius such that the internal pressure and external pressure are equal. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Cavitation dilemma resolved in knuckle-cracking model," 5 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of oscillate

1726, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for oscillate

Latin oscillatus, past participle of oscillare to swing, from oscillum swing

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Statistics for oscillate

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for oscillate

The first known use of oscillate was in 1726

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More Definitions for oscillate

oscillate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of oscillate

: to move in one direction and then back again many times
formal : to keep changing from one belief, feeling, condition, etc., to an opposite one
technical : to change in strength or direction regularly

oscillate

verb
os·​cil·​late | \ ˈä-sə-ˌlāt \
oscillated; oscillating

Kids Definition of oscillate

: to swing or move back and forth between two points

oscillate

intransitive verb
os·​cil·​late | \ ˈäs-ə-ˌlāt \
oscillated; oscillating

Medical Definition of oscillate

1 : to swing backward and forward like a pendulum
2 : to move or travel back and forth between two points

Other Words from oscillate

oscillatory \ ˈäs-​ə-​lə-​ˌtōr-​ē, -​ˌtȯr-​ \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on oscillate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with oscillate

Spanish Central: Translation of oscillate

Nglish: Translation of oscillate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oscillate for Arabic Speakers

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