os·​cil·​lo·​scope ä-ˈsi-lə-ˌskōp How to pronounce oscilloscope (audio)
: an instrument in which the variations in a fluctuating electrical quantity appear temporarily as a visible wave form on a display screen
oscilloscopic 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 Not only that, but the new method removes the biggest barrier holding back previously existing methods from exploiting side channels: the need to have instruments such as an oscilloscope, electric probes, or other objects touching or being in proximity to the device being attacked. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 13 June 2023 With an oscilloscope, the game lacks a certain visual élan, with the fuel and altitude readings displayed as two horizontal lines. IEEE Spectrum, 28 Dec. 2023 His home workshop contains about eight personal computers of different makes and vintages, five oscilloscopes, including a vintage Tektronix 545 scope, 15000 ICs inventoried and filed, and shelves loaded with IC data books dating right back to the 1960s. IEEE Spectrum, 8 Oct. 2022 The Tektronix campus produced a succession of innovations beginning in 1957, where the company developed oscilloscopes for measuring the performance electronic devices. Mike Rogoway | Mrogoway@oregonian.com, oregonlive, 4 May 2023 Several summers began with Hoff entering the General Railway laboratory to find the researchers’ two best oscilloscopes broken. IEEE Spectrum, 8 Oct. 2022 This arrangement [schematic diagram below] creates a relaxation oscillator, the output of which looks quite funky on an oscilloscope. IEEE Spectrum, 26 Apr. 2022 The Russian national allegedly bought the equipment, known as a dual-use oscilloscope, from the American company for $25,000 and shipped it to Brayman's New Hampshire residence. Robert Legare, CBS News, 13 Dec. 2022 Its most recent product, called Moku:Go, delivers the functionality of an oscilloscope, constant temperature controller, logic analyzer, arbitrary waveform generator, data logger, spectrum analyzer and other tasks in one device. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 May 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'oscilloscope.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary

First Known Use

1906, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of oscilloscope was in 1906

Dictionary Entries Near oscilloscope

Cite this Entry

“Oscilloscope.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oscilloscope. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


os·​cil·​lo·​scope ä-ˈsil-ə-ˌskōp How to pronounce oscilloscope (audio)
: an instrument in which the variations in a continually changing electrical quantity appear temporarily as a visible wave form on the screen of a cathode-ray tube

Medical Definition


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

oscilloscopic adjective
oscilloscopically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on oscilloscope

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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