os·​cil·​lo·​scope | \ ä-ˈsi-lə-ˌskōp How to pronounce oscilloscope (audio) , ə- \

Definition of oscilloscope

: an instrument in which the variations in a fluctuating electrical quantity appear temporarily as a visible wave form on a display screen

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Other Words from oscilloscope

oscilloscopic \ ä-​ˌsi-​lə-​ˈskä-​pik How to pronounce oscilloscopic (audio) , ˌä-​sə-​lə-​ \ adjective

Did You Know?

In Latin oscillare means "to swing", and our word oscillation usually means "vibration" or "variation", especially in a changing flow of electricity. The oscilloscope basically draws a graph of an electrical signal. Since all kinds of physical phenomena can be converted into an electric voltage, oscilloscopes can be used to measure such things as sound, light, and heat. So an oscilloscope can analyze how one clarinet's sound is different from another's, or how one bulb's light differs from another's. Auto mechanics use oscilloscopes to measure engine vibrations; doctors use them to measure brain waves. Audio technicians use oscilloscopes to diagnose problems in audio equipment; TV and radio technicians use them to diagnose TV and radio problems. But oscilloscopes are most essential today to high-tech electronics experimentation.

Examples of oscilloscope in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Godfather to Oregon’s technology industry, Tektronix makes oscilloscopes that engineers use to measure the performance of electronic devices. Mike Rogoway, oregonlive, "Tektronix lays off employees as sales decline," 7 Nov. 2019 Tektronix makes oscilloscopes and similar instruments that engineers use to test and evaluate electronic devices. Mike Rogoway, oregonlive, "Tektronix buyouts trim nearly 200 jobs as sales slump, parent company breaks up," 4 Sep. 2019 The pocket oscilloscope, the Raspberry Pi radio, the voice changer, the mini voltmeter, and an LED glove. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Making things is now a global movement. But is the U.S. making enough?," 27 Aug. 2018 Batting a ball back and forth is one of the oldest concepts in video games, dating back to the days of William Higinbotham’s Tennis for Two oscilloscope experiments in the ‘50s. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Mario Tennis Aces review: Turning tennis into a fighting game," 22 June 2018 Of course, the game has appeared on other oscilloscope models. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Way to Play 'Duck Hunt' Is On an Oscilloscope," 9 Oct. 2015 The Agilent InfiniiVision 6000 X is a $40,000 oscilloscope that hides a few easter eggs inside. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Way to Play 'Duck Hunt' Is On an Oscilloscope," 9 Oct. 2015 Experiments or medical tests needed graphical or pictorial output for interpretation, often from an analog oscilloscope which plotted out a voltage or current change over time. Ann Elsner, Smithsonian, "Polaroid Inventor Edwin Land Gave Us More Than Just Instant Photos," 18 May 2018 Still, for those who work with oscilloscopes, this might be a nice way to slack off for five minutes or so. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Way to Play 'Duck Hunt' Is On an Oscilloscope," 9 Oct. 2015

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oscilloscope.' 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 oscilloscope

1906, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for oscilloscope

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Time Traveler for oscilloscope

Time Traveler

The first known use of oscilloscope was in 1906

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Statistics for oscilloscope

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Oscilloscope.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oscilloscope. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for oscilloscope


os·​cil·​lo·​scope | \ ä-ˈsil-ə-ˌskōp, ə- How to pronounce oscilloscope (audio) \

Medical Definition of oscilloscope

: an instrument in which the variations in a fluctuating electrical quantity appear temporarily as a visible waveform on the fluorescent screen of a cathode-ray tube

called also cathode-ray oscilloscope

Other Words from oscilloscope

oscilloscopic \ ä-​ˌsil-​ə-​ˈskäp-​ik How to pronounce oscilloscopic (audio) , ˌäs-​ə-​lə-​ How to pronounce oscilloscopic (audio) \ adjective
oscilloscopically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce oscilloscopically (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on oscilloscope

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with oscilloscope

Nglish: Translation of oscilloscope for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about oscilloscope

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