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.

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Other Words from oscillation

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

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 Inside the high school cafeteria, a student sits alone at a table with a laptop, as her physics teacher, via videoconference, describes harmonic oscillation using a pendulum. Jill Tucker, SFChronicle.com, "How will Bay Area classrooms work in the fall? Teachers imagine the future of school," 2 July 2020 In the simplest case, the neutrino would reappear some time later as one of the regular flavors (although there is a theoretical possibility that a sterile neutrino could decay, ending the oscillation cycle entirely). William Charles Louis, Scientific American, "Hidden Neutrino Particles May Be a Link to the Dark Sector," 1 July 2020 But that changed near the end of the 20th century, Clem said, when sea-surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific began to rise, part of a natural oscillation that occurs on a time scale of decades. Henry Fountain, BostonGlobe.com, "Even the South Pole is warming, and quickly, scientists say," 29 June 2020 Like a traditional clock, atomic clocks track time using oscillation. Larry Printz, Ars Technica, "The long, winding, technological road to GPS in every car," 24 June 2020 These movements back and forth inside of stars, called oscillations, can reveal their inner workings. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "The 'beating hearts' of these pulsating stars create music to astronomers' ears," 15 May 2020 Moreover, Heller said, their formulae show the U.S. is still going through these oscillations of moist to dry air masses which directly affect indoor humidity. Fox News, "How is Germany controlling the coronavirus outbreak?," 10 Mar. 2020 The oscillation is rarely this intense, and its hold rarely lasts this long. Brian K Sullivan, Bloomberg.com, "It’s the Warmest Winter Ever and It’s the North Pole’s Fault," 8 May 2020 But its wild oscillations from one day to another — and even one hour to the next — also mirror our collective, pent-up emotionality and uncertainty. Jacob Bernstein, New York Times, "Together Apart? How About Totally Losing It?," 29 Apr. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of oscillation

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for oscillation

Time Traveler

The first known use of oscillation was in 1658

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Statistics for oscillation

Last Updated

13 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Oscillation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oscillation. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for oscillation


How to pronounce oscillation (audio)

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


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

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