Synonym Chooser

How does the verb undulate differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of undulate are fluctuate, oscillate, sway, swing, vibrate, and waver. While all these words mean "to move from one direction to its opposite," undulate suggests a gentle wavelike motion.

an undulating sea of grass

When is fluctuate a more appropriate choice than undulate?

While in some cases nearly identical to undulate, fluctuate suggests constant irregular changes of level, intensity, or value.

fluctuating interest rates

Where would oscillate be a reasonable alternative to undulate?

The words oscillate and undulate can be used in similar contexts, but oscillate stresses a usually regular alternation of direction.

an oscillating fan

When can sway be used instead of undulate?

While the synonyms sway and undulate are close in meaning, sway implies a slow swinging or teetering movement.

trees swaying in the breeze

When might swing be a better fit than undulate?

Although the words swing and undulate have much in common, swing implies a movement of something attached at one end or one side.

the door suddenly swung open

When would vibrate be a good substitute for undulate?

The meanings of vibrate and undulate largely overlap; however, vibrate suggests the rapid oscillation of an elastic body under stress or impact.

the vibrating strings of a piano

When is it sensible to use waver instead of undulate?

In some situations, the words waver and undulate are roughly equivalent. However, waver stresses irregular motion suggestive of reeling or tottering.

the exhausted runner wavered before collapsing


Thesaurus Entries Near undulate

Cite this Entry

“Undulate.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/undulate. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

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