verb vi·brate \ˈvī-ˌbrāt, especially British vī-ˈ\

Definition of vibrate



  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to swing or move to and fro

  3. 2 :  to emit with or as if with a vibratory motion

  4. 3 :  to mark or measure by oscillation <a pendulum vibrating seconds>

  5. 4 :  to set in vibration

  6. intransitive verb
  7. 1 a :  to move to and fro or from side to side :  oscillate b :  fluctuate, vacillate <vibrate between two choices>

  8. 2 :  to have an effect as or as if of vibration <music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory — P. B. Shelley>

  9. 3 :  to be in a state of vibration :  quiver

  10. 4 :  to respond sympathetically :  thrill <vibrate to the opportunity>

Examples of vibrate in a sentence

  1. The car started to vibrate.

  2. When you blow into the instrument, the air vibrates the reed.

Origin and Etymology of vibrate

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

First Known Use: 1616

Synonym Discussion of vibrate

swing, wave, flourish, brandish, thrash mean to wield or cause to move to and fro or up and down. swing implies regular or uniform movement <swing the rope back and forth>. wave usually implies smooth or continuous motion <waving the flag>. flourish suggests vigorous, ostentatious, graceful movement <flourished the winning lottery ticket>. brandish implies threatening or menacing motion <brandishing a knife>. thrash suggests vigorous, abrupt, violent movement <an infant thrashing his arms about>.

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>.

VIBRATE Defined for English Language Learners


verb vi·brate \ˈvī-ˌbrāt, especially British vī-ˈ\

Definition of vibrate for English Language Learners

  • : to move back and forth or from side to side with very short, quick movements

VIBRATE Defined for Kids


verb vi·brate \ˈvī-ˌbrāt\

Definition of vibrate for Students



  1. :  to move or cause to move back and forth or from side to side very quickly

Seen and Heard

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a Mesopotamian temple tower

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