fluc·​tu·​ate | \ ˈflək-chə-ˌwāt How to pronounce fluctuate (audio) , -chü-ˌāt \
fluctuated; fluctuating

Definition of fluctuate

intransitive verb

1 : to shift back and forth uncertainly Oil prices fluctuated. Temperatures fluctuated.
2 : to rise and fall in or as if in waves The boat fluctuated on the rough sea.

transitive verb

: to cause to fluctuate

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for fluctuate



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for fluctuate

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 fluctuate in a Sentence

His popularity has fluctuated during his term in office. In the desert, the temperature fluctuates dramatically.
Recent Examples on the Web This contrasts with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin that aren’t backed by assets and can fluctuate wildly in value. Andrew Ackerman, WSJ, 1 Oct. 2021 The seven-day case average is a better metric for spotting trends than the daily case counts, which can fluctuate wildly during a week, Nolen said. Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Oct. 2021 In China, regulators have already set a circuit breaker on the SEEE at 10% above or below the day’s opening trade price, so the cost of carbon can never fluctuate too much. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 23 Sep. 2021 International markets, which fluctuate wildly with coronavirus caseloads and government restrictions, are a major factor in studio release decisions. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 7 Sep. 2021 West Hartford, like communities throughout the Capitol region, has seen car-targeting crimes fluctuate in the past two or three years. Don Stacom, courant.com, 13 Aug. 2021 Sixteen percent of American workers' schedules fluctuate based on their employers' needs. Bryce Covert, Star Tribune, 21 July 2021 An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is one where rates can fluctuate. Jennifer Tzeses, House Beautiful, 20 July 2021 And those mixtures can naturally unmix over time, especially when temperatures fluctuate. Sam Kean, Science | AAAS, 2 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fluctuate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of fluctuate

1604, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2

History and Etymology for fluctuate

Latin fluctuatus, past participle of fluctuare, from fluctus flow, wave, from fluere — more at fluid

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About fluctuate

Time Traveler for fluctuate

Time Traveler

The first known use of fluctuate was in 1604

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near fluctuate




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for fluctuate

Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fluctuate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fluctuate. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fluctuate



English Language Learners Definition of fluctuate

: to change level, strength, or value frequently


fluc·​tu·​ate | \ ˈflək-chə-ˌwāt How to pronounce fluctuate (audio) \
fluctuated; fluctuating

Kids Definition of fluctuate

: to change continually and especially up and down The temperature fluctuated.

More from Merriam-Webster on fluctuate

Nglish: Translation of fluctuate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fluctuate for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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