oscillation

noun
os·​cil·​la·​tion | \ ˌä-sə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce oscillation (audio) \

Definition of oscillation

1 : the action or state of oscillating stays can be effectively used to prevent oscillations in new bridges— D. B. Steinman
2 : variation, fluctuation famines due to excessive storminess and violent oscillations of rain and drought, heat and cold— Ellsworth Huntington
3 : a flow of electricity changing periodically from a maximum to a minimum especially : a flow periodically changing direction
4 : a single swing (as of an oscillating body) from one extreme limit to the other Each oscillation of the pendulum represents one second.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from oscillation

oscillational \ ˌä-​sə-​ˈlā-​shnəl How to pronounce oscillational (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Synonyms for oscillation

Synonyms

change, fluctuation, flux, inconstancy

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of oscillation in a Sentence

the continued oscillation of the fan There has been oscillation between optimism and pessimism among voters.

Recent Examples on the Web

But on a bridge, this exacerbates the problem, giving rise to additional small sideways oscillations that amplify the swaying. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New study sheds more light on what caused Millennium Bridge to wobble," 30 Oct. 2018 The phase describes where in an oscillation the swing is. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Qubits can sync if they have more than two possible values," 7 Aug. 2018 In fact, that oscillation frequency is so precise that in 1967, scientists actually used it to define the second. 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 That will suddenly change the oscillation frequency of the mass. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Oscillating brain goes regular before migraine pain hits," 15 Aug. 2018 Instead, a new temperature oscillation in the Indian Ocean dominates. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Mad scientists flip the Earth’s spin in climate models, watch water go nuts," 17 Oct. 2018 Atomic clocks, rather than counting the time based on movements of gears or springs or crystals, operate based on oscillations in individual atoms. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Stared at Clocks for 14 Years to Try and Catch the Laws of Physics Changing," 27 July 2018 This is a bit of a double win because the evidence that neutrinos have mass is quite strong now—like from the flavor oscillations from solar neutrinos, for instance. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Neutrinos may decay invisibly, resolving problems in IceCube data," 24 Sep. 2018 The massive vehicle was tested twice on unmanned missions (both ultimately successful) but the second flight had serious glitches, including vertical oscillations (dubbed the pogo effect) and premature engine shutdowns. Ernie Mastroianni, Discover Magazine, "Apollo 8: Humanity's First Trip to the Moon," 21 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oscillation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of oscillation

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about oscillation

Statistics for oscillation

Last Updated

23 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for oscillation

The first known use of oscillation was in 1658

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for oscillation

oscillation

noun

English Language Learners Definition of oscillation

: the act of regularly moving from one position to another and back to the original position
somewhat formal : a frequent change from one state, position, or amount to another
somewhat formal : the act of changing from one belief, feeling, etc., to an opposite one

oscillation

noun
os·​cil·​la·​tion | \ ˌäs-ə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce oscillation (audio) \

Medical Definition of oscillation

1 : the action or state of oscillating
2 : a flow of electricity changing periodically from a maximum to a minimum especially : a flow periodically changing direction

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on oscillation

What made you want to look up oscillation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!