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 region's climate system is oscillating more wildly. Craig Welch, National Geographic, "How Amazon forest loss may affect water—and climate—far away," 27 Aug. 2019 Inside the charging pad is an induction coil that creates an oscillating electromagnetic field. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "How Does Wireless Charging Work?," 1 Sep. 2019 Photons can be distinguished by their color (wavelength), how pure that color is (or more technically, coherence), the orientation of their oscillating electric field (known as polarization), their spatial shape, and their arrival time. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Identical photons generated 150 million kilometers apart," 22 Aug. 2019 Knobloch recommends the multidirectional variable speed oscillating fan from GreenTech Environmental ($129, homedepot.com). Michelle Brunner, Twin Cities, "Expert tips to keep the summer swelter from trapping you inside," 7 Aug. 2019 Indeed, Gregor oscillates between the kind and vicious versions of this story. David Canfield, EW.com, "Going Dutch is a hilarious, feverish deconstruction of gay millennial life," 19 Aug. 2019 The stories oscillate between mysterious, dark and, at times, humorous, to paint a complicated picture of the dynamics between men and women. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "Barack Obama Shares His 2019 Summer Reading List," 14 Aug. 2019 Johnson oscillated between supporting either leaving or remaining, before throwing his weight suddenly behind the Leave campaign. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "No, Boris Johnson isn’t the UK’s Donald Trump," 25 July 2019 Inside a sprawling midcentury modern house in the West Hollywood hills, Mereba and her lover oscillate between silence and bursts of fleeting joy through a black and white filter. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Rising Singer Mereba Serves Up Regal Beauty in Her New “Sandstorm” Music Video," 9 July 2019

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

9 Oct 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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a topic to which one constantly reverts

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