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nutation Syllabification: nu·ta·tion
Pronunciation: /n(y)o͞oˈtāSHən/

Definition of nutation in English:


1A periodic variation in the inclination of the axis of a rotating object.
1.1 Astronomy A periodic oscillation of the earth’s axis that causes the precession of the poles to follow a wavy rather than a circular path.
Example sentences
  • There is a small periodic effect called nutation superimposed on precession caused by the motion of the perihelion of the Moon.
  • In addition to the precession and nutation of the Earth's rotational axis, the Earth itself undergoes a wobble such that the crust wanders about the rotational axis with a combination of two periods and amplitudes.
  • Bessel's work in determining the constants of precession, nutation and aberration won him further honours, such as a prize from the Berlin Academy in 1815.
1.2 Botany The circular swaying movement of the tip of a growing shoot.


Early 17th century (denoting nodding of the head): from Latin nutatio(n-), from nutare 'to nod'.

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