vi·​brate | \ ˈvī-ˌbrāt How to pronounce vibrate (audio) , especially British vī-ˈbrāt \
vibrated; vibrating

Definition of vibrate

transitive verb

1 : to swing or move to and fro
2 : to emit with or as if with a vibratory motion
3 : to mark or measure by oscillation a pendulum vibrating seconds
4 : to set in vibration

intransitive verb

1a : to move to and fro or from side to side : oscillate
b : fluctuate, vacillate vibrate between two choices
2 : to have an effect as or as if of vibration music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory— P. B. Shelley
3 : to be in a state of vibration : quiver
4 : to respond sympathetically : thrill vibrate to the opportunity

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Synonyms for vibrate


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Choose the Right Synonym for vibrate

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

Examples of vibrate in a Sentence

The car started to vibrate. When you blow into the instrument, the air vibrates the reed.
Recent Examples on the Web Tomatoes like buzzing insects to pollinate, so the latest advice is to put an an electric toothbrush on stems to vibrate the pollen out of the flowers. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, 15 July 2021 Lakoff said what Biden does isn't really whispering because his vocal chords vibrate and make sound. Darlene Superville, ajc, 12 July 2021 Their beating wings vibrate, inadvertently loosening pollen, which then falls onto the female part of the flower. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 July 2021 Polarized light is like streaking a comb through messy hair—all the waves now vibrate in the same plane. Max G. Levy, Wired, 23 June 2021 Titled after the safety features installed on highways to loudly vibrate if a driver veers from the path, the work jolted its viewers to attention. Sheila Regan, Star Tribune, 7 June 2021 The littlest parts of it — listening to his coach during a timeout, talking trash to a fan in the crowd — vibrate with holy energy. New York Times, 2 June 2021 Every August, Toronto's streets vibrate with a familiar island rhythm. Heather Greenwood Davis, Travel + Leisure, 27 May 2021 Those vocal folds vibrate to create sounds like singing and speaking. Korin Miller,, 21 June 2021

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

1616, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for vibrate

Latin vibratus, past participle of vibrare to brandish, wave, rock — more at wipe

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Time Traveler for vibrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of vibrate was in 1616

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Dictionary Entries Near vibrate



vibrated concrete

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Statistics for vibrate

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vibrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for vibrate



English Language Learners Definition of vibrate

: to move back and forth or from side to side with very short, quick movements


vi·​brate | \ ˈvī-ˌbrāt How to pronounce vibrate (audio) \
vibrated; vibrating

Kids Definition of vibrate

: to move or cause to move back and forth or from side to side very quickly

More from Merriam-Webster on vibrate

Nglish: Translation of vibrate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vibrate for Arabic Speakers


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