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[os-uh-leyt] /ˈɒs əˌleɪt/
verb (used without object), oscillated, oscillating.
to swing or move to and fro, as a pendulum does.
to vary or vacillate between differing beliefs, opinions, conditions, etc.:
He oscillates regularly between elation and despair.
Physics. to have, produce, or generate oscillations.
Mathematics. (of a function, sequence, etc.) to tend to no limit, including infinity:
The sequence 0, 1, 0, 1, … oscillates.
verb (used with object), oscillated, oscillating.
to cause to move to and fro; vibrate.
1720-30; < Latin oscillātus (past participle of oscillāre to swing, ride on a swing), equivalent to oscill(um) a swing + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
interoscillate, verb, interoscillated, interoscillating.
unoscillating, adjective
Can be confused
oscillate, osculate.
1. See swing1 . 2. fluctuate, waver. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for oscillating
  • Get an oscillating fan and set it to rotate so it makes the hanging things move at intervals.
  • Most animals can tell how fast the electric field in a light wave is oscillating, which is perceived as color.
  • Otherwise, patrons rely on a battery of oscillating fans to stir the equatorial air as they hunch over their food.
  • The decaying, oscillating tail that follows the spike displays many tens of cycles at the neutron star spin rate.
  • Avoid the oscillating type of sprinkler that sends water high into the air.
  • Certainly, oscillating it in a jostling manner won't be of significant help in keeping the desired brown liquid inside.
  • It signifies the return of the oscillating climate of the eighties and nineties.
  • My theory is based on the universe being comprised of gravity in oscillating densities.
  • Upon reaching an observer, the wave of oscillating polarities would excite receptors in the eye.
  • The dotted line shows the total energy of a particle oscillating due to the spring.
British Dictionary definitions for oscillating


(intransitive) to move or swing from side to side regularly
(intransitive) to waver between opinions, courses of action, etc
(physics) to undergo or produce or cause to undergo or produce oscillation
Word Origin
C18: from Latin oscillāre to swing, from oscillum a swing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for oscillating



1726, back-formation from oscillation, or else from Latin oscillatus, past participle of oscillare (see oscillation). From 1917 in electronics. Related: Oscillated; oscillating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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oscillating in Medicine

oscillate os·cil·late (ŏs'ə-lāt')
v. os·cil·lat·ed, os·cil·lat·ing, os·cil·lates

  1. To swing back and forth with a steady, uninterrupted rhythm.

  2. To vary between alternate extremes, usually within a definable period of time.

os'cil·la'tor n.
os'cil·la·to'ry (-lə-tôr'ē) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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