oscillate

verb
os·​cil·​late | \ ˈä-sə-ˌlāt How to pronounce oscillate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce oscillatory (audio) \ 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

The weather oscillates between beach- and brunch-appropriate. Brennan Kilbane, Allure, "Barbie's 60th Birthday Wish Was to Be More Inclusive. Now What?," 2 May 2019 Much like Madrid, Chelsea oscillates from glory to gloom under a conveyor belt of managers. Rob Harris, The Seattle Times, "Maurizio Sarri isolated at Chelsea after fans turn on him," 19 Feb. 2019 Drinks were served downstairs, dinner upstairs, and the comely belly dancers oscillated between the two. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Hamish Bowles Attends Serdar Gülgün’s Opulent Ottoman Ball in Istanbul," 4 Feb. 2019 For instance, cesium, one of the more common atoms used in atomic clocks, emits light that oscillates exactly 9,192,631,770 times per second. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Stared at Clocks for 14 Years to Try and Catch the Laws of Physics Changing," 27 July 2018 Their atomic clock, which occupies an entire table, works by hitting atoms with microwave radiation, which causes electrons inside those atoms to oscillate at a specific frequency. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Our New Atomic Clock Is So Precise That We Need a Better Understanding of Gravity To Use It," 30 Nov. 2018 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

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

5 Jun 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 How to pronounce oscillate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce oscillate (audio) \
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-​ How to pronounce oscillatory (audio) \ adjective

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