Definition of oscillate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈäsəˌlāt/


[no object]
1Move or swing back and forth at a regular speed: a pendulum oscillates about its lowest point
More example sentences
  • The tip may also oscillate up and down as it moves across the surface, mapping out the surface features.
  • It is simply a measure of how quickly something is oscillating or vibrating.
  • The cams are mounted on a shaft which oscillates in rotation, and the pistons move so as to follow the profile of the cam.
swing, swing back and forth, swing to and fro, sway
informal wigwag
1.1 [with adverbial] Waver between extremes of opinion, action, or quality: he was oscillating between fear and bravery
More example sentences
  • This can cause the players' strategies to oscillate back and forth indefinitely.
  • They oscillate back and forth between the Church and party officials, depending on which side is more convincing at a time.
  • He'll oscillate back and forth between a discussion of eastern philosophies and a discussion of particle physics.
waver, swing, fluctuate, alternate, seesaw, yo-yo, sway, vacillate, waffle, hover
informal wobble
2 Physics Vary in magnitude or position in a regular manner around a central point.
Example sentences
  • The light made the electrons in each atom oscillate back and forth from one side of the atom to the other.
  • The temperature of a very narrow central region was observed to oscillate in a sinusoidal manner for over two minutes.
  • The physical scalar fields that oscillate as normal modes about the potential minimum are the massless angular mode and the massive radial mode.
2.1(Of a circuit or device) cause the electric current or voltage running through it to behave in this way.
Example sentences
  • Alternating Current simply means that the voltage oscillates between positive and negative.
  • The electric field reverses direction, or oscillates, every 15 minutes.
  • When sufficient gsl is present, it drives fast bursting, and as a result the slow s2 current does not have enough time to oscillate.



Pronunciation: /əˈsiləˌtôrē/
Example sentences
  • This study was carried out to clarify the detailed features of oscillatory motion using atomic force microscopy.
  • Figure 1 shows that changes in the power of two oscillatory components at different frequencies can be continuously and accurately tracked over time.
  • Studies so far show no direct evidence saying how the variation of oscillatory frequency as shown in Figs.4 and 5 depends on the sites along axonemes.


Early 18th century: from Latin oscillat- 'swung', from the verb oscillare.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: os·cil·late

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