oscillate

play
verb os·cil·late \ˈä-sə-ˌlāt\

Definition of oscillate

oscillated

oscillating

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to swing backward and forward like a pendulum b :  to move or travel back and forth between two points

  3. 2 :  to vary between opposing beliefs, feelings, or theories

  4. 3 :  to vary above and below a mean value

oscillatory

play \ˈä-sə-lə-ˌtȯr-ē\ adjective

Origin and Etymology of oscillate

Latin oscillatus, past participle of oscillare to swing, from oscillum swing


First Known Use: 1726

Synonym Discussion of oscillate

swing, wave, flourish, brandish, thrash mean to wield or cause to move to and fro or up and down. swing implies regular or uniform movement <swing the rope back and forth>. wave usually implies smooth or continuous motion <waving the flag>. flourish suggests vigorous, ostentatious, graceful movement <flourished the winning lottery ticket>. brandish implies threatening or menacing motion <brandishing a knife>. thrash suggests vigorous, abrupt, violent movement <an infant thrashing his arms about>.

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>.

OSCILLATE Defined for English Language Learners

oscillate

play
verb os·cil·late \ˈä-sə-ˌlāt\

Definition of oscillate for English Language Learners

  • : to move in one direction and then back again many times

  • : to keep changing from one belief, feeling, condition, etc., to an opposite one

  • : to change in strength or direction regularly


OSCILLATE Defined for Kids

oscillate

play
verb os·cil·late \ˈä-sə-ˌlāt\

Definition of oscillate for Students

oscillated

oscillating

  1. :  to swing or move back and forth between two points


Medical Dictionary

oscillate

play
intransitive verb os·cil·late \ˈäs-ə-ˌlāt\

Medical Definition of oscillate

oscillated

;

oscillating

  1. 1:  to swing backward and forward like a pendulum

  2. 2:  to move or travel back and forth between two points

oscillatory

\ˈäs-ə-lə-ˌtōr-ē, -ˌtȯr-\play adjective

Learn More about oscillate


Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a harsh rebuke

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog-cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
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