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

Synonyms for vibrate


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 If the air pressure inside the middle ear is different from the outside, the eardrum will not vibrate properly and sounds appear muffled. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 7 Mar. 2022 The gamepad will vibrate a trigger if the corresponding front wheel locks up under braking. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 2 Mar. 2022 But the suggestion makes the ground beneath my feet vibrate with the fury of millions of people who would again share their medical choices with their politicians. Marina Gomberg, The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 May 2022 Half the revenue will go into state walk-bike safety projects, and half is budgeted by SDOT for accessible signals that make noise or vibrate, aiding blind pedestrians. Mike Lindblom, Anchorage Daily News, 3 Mar. 2022 The school’s verdant grounds are punctiliously maintained by a near invisible staff, and its halls vibrate with history. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Jan. 2022 All the guilt and desire and insecurities and loathing and love accumulate and cause the musical air molecules to vibrate furiously. Matthew Aucoin, The Atlantic, 23 Nov. 2021 Or flick a wineglass and the rim will vibrate a few hundred times per second, producing a characteristic tone as the vibrations transfer to the surrounding air. Quanta Magazine, 26 Jan. 2022 For seniors who are deaf or hard of hearing, and for anyone who is a deep sleeper, there are smoke alarms that vibrate or flash lights to warn about dangers. oregonlive, 2 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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

Learn More About vibrate

Time Traveler for vibrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of vibrate was in 1616

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near vibrate



vibrated concrete

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for vibrate

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vibrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for vibrate


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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!