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 These fuzzy yellow insects will deploy their signature buzz to literally vibrate the pollen off plants. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Climate Change Has Driven Serious Declines in World’s Bumblebees," 11 Feb. 2020 The pages all but vibrate with rich color: blues and greens and the flaming orange of a great cat who disdains to run when hunters enter his leafy realm. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Under the Surface," 4 Sep. 2020 Models of lesser quality may vibrate, and those vibrations will usually get more noticeable as speed increases. Anthony Marcusa,, "The best bike roller," 29 Aug. 2020 Some models, especially light and fast ones, will jump a little and/or vibrate noticeably. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "How to Buy the Perfect Compound Bow for Hunting," 12 Aug. 2020 Males vibrate a special drum-like organ in their bodies called a tymbal to attract females. Lauren Cox, Popular Mechanics, "How To Survive Cicada Season," 14 June 2020 Fitbits also feature silent alarms; the tracker will vibrate at a specific time and gently wake you up without disturbing others. Anthony Marcusa,, "The best Fitbit of 2020," 4 Aug. 2020 Physics students learn that everything has a resonant frequency, which can cause an object to vibrate with increased amplitude and eventually... Andy Kessler, WSJ, "The Physics of a Political Crack-Up," 2 Aug. 2020 That means when the metal heats up, those electrons vibrate quickly, passing energy in the form of heat throughout the entire metal—or into any unlucky fingertips that touch it. Sofie Bates, Popular Mechanics, "What If ‘Floor Is Lava’ Used Actual Lava?," 30 June 2020

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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Statistics for vibrate

Last Updated

20 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vibrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for vibrate


How to pronounce vibrate (audio)

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

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