vi·brate | \ˈvī-ˌbrāt, 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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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

The final phase of warning, escalation 3, is for emergency purposes; the light bar flashes red, the seat vibrates, chimes ding, the hazards will come on and the car will coast in its lane to a stop. Robert Duffer,, "Cadillac Super Cruise semi-autonomous system plays it safe, smart," 29 Sep. 2017 Whenever the buzzer vibrated or the lightbulb changed color from orange to red, I was supposed to click the button on my finger. Fredrick Kunkle, ajc, "I took AAA's distracted driving road test. It wasn't pretty.," 29 June 2018 Whenever the buzzer vibrated or the lightbulb changed color from orange to red, I was supposed to click the button on my finger. Fredrick Kunkle, Washington Post, "I took AAA’s distracted driving road test. It wasn’t pretty.," 28 June 2018 Self becomes body becomes scent becomes music—in Serpentwithfeet’s art, nothing is stable and everything vibrates. Noah Berlatsky, Chicago Reader, "Serpentwithfeet makes queer, vibrating R&B that sounds like nothing else on earth," 21 June 2018 When Peterson walks out of the courtroom for the last time, Kathleen’s sisters are still vibrating with rage. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "How The Staircase Defined True Crime Series," 11 June 2018 Taylor’s vocals vibrate throughout K.T.S.E., but the album seems to lack the full force of her literal and proverbial voice. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Teyana Taylor’s Music Has Matured, but Has Her Label?," 25 June 2018 The technique works because audible sound can cause an HDD’s head stack assembly to vibrate outside of normal bounds. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Sonic and ultrasonic attacks damage hard drives and crash OSes," 30 May 2018 DiGiovanni tossed extra candy into the production, too, including a low tone at the end of the bridge that sounds like a cellphone vibrating on a desk. Tom Roland, Billboard, "Jordan Davis Has a New 'Take' After Scoring His First No. 1 Single," 17 May 2018

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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Statistics for vibrate

Last Updated

3 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vibrate

The first known use of vibrate was in 1616

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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 \
vibrated; vibrating

Kids Definition of vibrate

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

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Comments on vibrate

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


one that holds something together

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