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 The whole canvas — the sky, the clouds, the atmosphere itself — seems to vibrate in response to the cypresses’ life force, evoking all the ways in which the natural world is interconnected. Washington Post, "The artist was living in an asylum when he painted ‘Cypresses’ shortly after ‘Starry Night’," 24 Mar. 2021 The thin lines spiraling toward the central black hole shadow in the image above show emissions with different polarizations—the direction in which light waves vibrate. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Detailed image of a black hole’s magnetic field may explain how matter fuels powerful jets," 24 Mar. 2021 The controllers will also offer haptic feedback to vibrate during specific actions within a game. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, "PlayStation VR: These are the new controllers for Sony's virtual reality platform," 18 Mar. 2021 Some molecules vibrate or stretch more than others. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "Was there ever life on Mars? Perseverance’s SHERLOC laser sniffs for microscopic clues," 11 Mar. 2021 Frog lungs, Lee and his colleagues discovered, vibrate within a range of about 1400 to 2200 hertz; the American green tree frog calls outside this range, while many of the toads and bullfrogs that share its habitat call within it. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, "How Female Frogs Tune Out Useless, Noisy Males," 4 Mar. 2021 But every dawn, Winbest Industrial’s floors vibrate under machinery; lighting turns everything blue. Los Angeles Times, "From the first stitch to the final zip: The global journey of a COVID-19 body bag," 23 Feb. 2021 Some of them just vibrate, some let Mom pick the baby up more easily, some play white noise or shoot colors on the ceiling to lull the little one, and a few actually rock the baby back and forth. Gear Team, Wired, "All the Gear We Fell In Love With During 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 Aim the probe at the center of your forehead, press the measurement button to start the test and the thermometer will vibrate once the reading is complete. Lauren Levy, NBC News, "Cyber Monday bestsellers: Best deals, top selling products we've covered," 30 Nov. 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

6 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vibrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 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

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Comments on vibrate

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