os·cil·la·tion | \ˌä-sə-ˈlā-shən \

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, -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

This is approximately half of a complete oscillation with a time of about 3.5 seconds. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "The Physics Behind a Fake Flying Samurai Battle," 3 Apr. 2018 Additionally, the time-keeping device on each satellite gives a subtly different reading, the result of variations in their atomic clocks, which tell time by measuring the precise oscillations of an atom. Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "The New Arms Race Threatening to Explode in Space," 26 June 2018 But below the surface lurks a star: Underneath the piano composition, there's the accompaniment from the oscillations of the star Y Cam A, an eclipsing binary system. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Pianist Plays a Duet With a Binary Star," 10 Aug. 2015 The researchers next assessed which clusters represented bona fide traveling waves by analyzing the timing of the oscillations. Simon Makin, Scientific American, "“Traveling” Brain Waves May Be Critical for Cognition," 28 June 2018 The technique relies on a device that maintains a perfectly stable frequency of laser oscillations so that any changes to the signal are obvious. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Seafloor fiber optic cables can work like seismometers," 15 June 2018 But there's lots of other blame to go around, depending on who's talking: commercial fishing nets; predatory pike; climate oscillations. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "From bad to worse: State announces more king salmon fishing shutdowns for Susitna Valley," 22 June 2018 The sterile neutrinos can, however, participate in flavor oscillations. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Weird neutrino excess won’t go away, hints at new physics," 8 June 2018 Both experiments have now reported more neutrino detections than The Standard Model's description of neutrino oscillation can explain the authors wrote in the paper. NBC News, "A major physics experiment just detected a particle that shouldn't exist," 3 June 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.

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First Known Use of oscillation

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

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The first known use of oscillation was in 1658

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More Definitions for oscillation



English Language Learners Definition of oscillation

: the act of regularly moving from one position to another and back to the original position

: a frequent change from one state, position, or amount to another

: the act of changing from one belief, feeling, etc., to an opposite one


os·cil·la·tion | \ˌäs-ə-ˈlā-shən \

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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not any or not one

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