undulate

adjective
un·​du·​late | \ ˈən-jə-lət How to pronounce undulate (audio) , ˈən-dyə- How to pronounce undulate (audio) , ˈən-də-, -ˌlāt How to pronounce undulate (audio) \
variants: or undulated \ ˈən-​jə-​ˌlā-​təd How to pronounce undulate (audio) , ˈən-​dyə-​ , ˈən-​də-​ \

Definition of undulate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having a wavy surface, edge, or markings the undulate margin of a leaf

undulate

verb
un·​du·​late | \ ˈən-jə-ˌlāt How to pronounce undulate (audio) , ˈən-dyə-, ˈən-də- \
undulated; undulating

Definition of undulate (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to form or move in waves : fluctuate
2 : to rise and fall in volume, pitch, or cadence
3 : to present a wavy appearance

transitive verb

: to cause to move in a wavy, sinuous, or flowing manner

Choose the Right Synonym for undulate

Verb

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

Make Waves With the History of Undulate

Undulate and inundate are word cousins that branch from unda, the Latin word for "wave." No surprise there. But would you have guessed that abound, surround, and redound are also unda offspring? The connection between unda and these words is easier to see when you learn that at some point in their early histories each of them essentially had the meaning of "to overflow"—a meaning that inundate still carries, along with its "overwhelm" sense.

Examples of undulate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Dots undulate, bubble up, then dissolve into the depths below my cellphone screen. New York Times, 29 Mar. 2022 For miles, the soft green slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains undulate, fading into a honeyed patchwork of farmland and forest that kiss the horizon. Washington Post, 26 Feb. 2022 Thousands of variously sized glass marbles, arranged on a dark, round mat, seem to undulate like boiling water, or maybe spacetime in a black hole. Laura Hudson, Wired, 16 Nov. 2021 Two weeks ago, as the landslide hit unprecedented speed, causing the ground around it to undulate with each passing truck, the team conceded defeat and closed the back half of the park weeks earlier than anticipated. Time, 7 Sep. 2021 Visitors tour through a history of the 19th-century painter's famously dramatic life and are surrounded by more then 300 of his paintings and sketches, which animate and undulate and drift around on all sides. Duante Beddingfield, Detroit Free Press, 27 July 2021 Their five-centimeter-thick quadruped was able to crawl and undulate its way through a space just two centimeters high. Larry Greenemeier, Scientific American, 30 Nov. 2011 Blades of strikingly green grass undulate in the currents. Shane Gross; Text By Katherine Harmon Courage, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Nov. 2020 Like the patterns in marbled paper, the word frequencies undulate, soaring and plunging as a function of time to track the way science talked about itself to itself. Moritz Stefaner, Scientific American, 1 Sep. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'undulate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of undulate

Adjective

1658, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1664, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for undulate

Adjective

Latin undulatus, from *undula, diminutive of unda wave — more at water

Verb

Late Latin undula small wave, from Latin *undula

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best fans.

Learn More About undulate

Time Traveler for undulate

Time Traveler

The first known use of undulate was in 1658

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About undulate

Dictionary Entries Near undulate

undular

undulate

undulating cadence

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for undulate

Cite this Entry

“Undulate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undulate. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for undulate

undulate

verb
un·​du·​late | \ ˈən-jə-ˌlāt How to pronounce undulate (audio) , -də-, -dyə- \
undulated; undulating

Kids Definition of undulate

: to move in or as if in a wavy or flowing way The curtains were streamers, undulating from the breeze …— Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted

undulate

adjective
un·​du·​late | \ ˈən-jə-lət How to pronounce undulate (audio) , ˈən-d(y)ə- How to pronounce undulate (audio) , -ˌlāt How to pronounce undulate (audio) \

Medical Definition of undulate

: having a wavy surface, edge, or markings an undulate cell

More from Merriam-Webster on undulate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for undulate

Nglish: Translation of undulate for Spanish Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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