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

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to move to and fro or from side to side : oscillate
: fluctuate, vacillate
vibrate between two choices
: to have an effect as or as if of vibration
music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memoryP. B. Shelley
: to be in a state of vibration : quiver
: to respond sympathetically : thrill
vibrate to the opportunity
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 Her hand gropes around the adjacent night stand to silence her vibrating phone. Kim Hew-Low, New York Times, 16 May 2024 There are three modes (alert, rapid, and symphony), all of which use vibrating patterns that frequently change in order to prevent moles from getting accustomed to the deterrent. Stephanie Osmanski, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 May 2024 This means the sim needs to vibrate at very high frequencies with that ultra-low friction and no recoil to be a realistic as possible. Jeremy White, WIRED, 9 May 2024 Thermal expansion and contraction may cause large structures on the station to warp or vibrate. IEEE Spectrum, 9 May 2024 Even in pastoral scenes like his study of two magnolia warblers, the little birds vibrate with expectancy, each obviously poised for flight. Danny Heitman, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 May 2024 When it was lifted, water rushed out forcefully, filling the building with a crashing sound and causing metal railings to vibrate as a whirlpool formed in the bottom of the tank. Ian James, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2024 In reality, the red light therapy is the star of the show, and the rest of the features feel like a warm, vibrating side effect. Erin Johnson, Peoplemag, 2 May 2024 The volunteers began exhibiting signs of drowsiness within 15 minutes of driving on the vibrating simulator, and by the 30 minute mark, most participants showed significant signs of drowsiness that peaked by the 60 minute mark. Logan Carter / Jalopnik, Quartz, 2 May 2024

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1616, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of vibrate was in 1616

Dictionary Entries Near vibrate

Cite this Entry

“Vibrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


vi·​brate ˈvī-ˌbrāt How to pronounce vibrate (audio)
vibrated; vibrating
: to move or cause to move back and forth or from side to side rapidly so as to produce a quivering effect or sound
guitar strings vibrate when plucked

More from Merriam-Webster on vibrate

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