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

Example Sentences

The car started to vibrate. When you blow into the instrument, the air vibrates the reed.
Recent Examples on the Web When said lipstick starts to vibrate, however, Luke finds out he's made a grave mistake. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 19 Apr. 2023 Doug Olexy was home from work and checking email when the blast shook his house, rattling windows and making the walls vibrate. Michael Rubinkam And Ron Todt,, 26 Mar. 2023 In a small clinical trial, 349 people with chronic constipation were divided into two groups: 200 who took the vibrating capsules every day for eight weeks and 149 who swallowed a lookalike pill that didn’t vibrate. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 8 Feb. 2023 After my post-stroll hot tub, my feet began to vibrate. Betsy Andrews, Condé Nast Traveler, 9 Jan. 2023 Their beating wings vibrate, inadvertently loosening pollen, which then falls onto the female part of the flower. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 July 2022 Earlier, he was booed so strongly that the Georgia Dome seemed to vibrate. Barry Wilner, ajc, 28 Sep. 2021 The most often encountered are the Western diamondback, Western, Mojave, black-tailed and sidewinder, all of which have rattles on their tails that may vibrate when nervous. Ellie Willard, The Arizona Republic, 8 Mar. 2023 The tool uses proprietary sonic technology to safely and gently remove peach fuzz by quickly vibrating to get as close to the root as possible. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 3 Mar. 2023 See More

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 31 May. 2023.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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