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[os-uh-ley-shuh n] /ˌɒs əˈleɪ ʃən/
an act or instance of oscillating.
a single swing or movement in one direction of an oscillating body.
fluctuation between beliefs, opinions, conditions, etc.
  1. an effect expressible as a quantity that repeatedly and regularly fluctuates above and below some mean value, as the pressure of a sound wave or the voltage of an alternating current.
  2. a single fluctuation between maximum and minimum values in such an effect.
  1. the difference between the least upper bound and the greatest lower bound of the functional values of a function in a given interval.
  2. Also called saltus. the limit of the oscillation in an interval containing a given point, as the length of the interval approaches zero.
1650-60; < Latin oscillātiōn- (stem of oscillātiō) a swinging, equivalent to oscillāt(us) (see oscillate) + -iōn- -ion Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for oscillations
  • One way to study it is to measure so-called baryon acoustic oscillations.
  • But none compares with the oscillations that occur deep within the atom.
  • Such waves form when buoyancy pushes air upward while gravity pulls it downward, giving rise to oscillations in the air.
  • But the probe was also designed to look for stellar oscillations that can reveal a star's magnetic activity.
  • In about eight-tenths of a second, the oscillations are so intense they send out sound waves.
  • Native river organisms can survive such oscillations, and many can't survive without them.
  • He also began hearing unlikely oscillations in the ringing: aural hallucinations.
  • But her last oscillations spun so fast that the contrasts seem more shocking.
  • These oscillations modulate the speed of the light traveling through the beam.
  • Over the day, focus declines--perhaps steadily, perhaps in a series of oscillations.
British Dictionary definitions for oscillations


(physics, statistics)
  1. regular fluctuation in value, position, or state about a mean value, such as the variation in an alternating current or the regular swinging of a pendulum
  2. a single cycle of such a fluctuation
the act or process of oscillating
Derived Forms
oscillatory (ˈɒsɪlətərɪ; -trɪ) adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for oscillations



1650s, from French oscillation, from Latin oscillationem (nominative oscillatio), noun of action from past participle stem of oscillare "to swing," supposed to be from oscillum "little face," literally "little mouth," a mask of open-mouthed Bacchus hung up in vineyards as a charm (the sense evolution would be via the notion of "swing in the breeze"); from PIE *os- "mouth" (see oral).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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oscillations in Medicine

oscillation os·cil·la·tion (ŏs'ə-lā'shən)

  1. The act of oscillating.

  2. The state of being oscillated.

  3. A single oscillatory cycle.

  4. A stage in inflammation in which the accumulation of white blood cells in the small vessels arrests the passage of blood, thus causing a to-and-fro movement of the blood at each cardiac contraction.

os'cil·la'tion·al 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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oscillations in Science
  1. A repeating fluctuation in a physical object or quantity. See also attractor, harmonic motion.

  2. A single cycle of such fluctuation.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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