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[uh-sil-uh-skohp] /əˈsɪl əˌskoʊp/
noun, Electricity.
a device that uses a cathode-ray tube or similar instrument to depict on a screen periodic changes in an electric quantity, as voltage or current.
Origin of oscilloscope
1905-10; oscill(ate) + -o- + -scope
Related forms
[uh-sil-uh-skop-ik] /əˌsɪl əˈskɒp ɪk/ (Show IPA),
oscilloscopically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for oscilloscope
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Later messages had been picked up by radio telescope and converted to appear as symbols on the oscilloscope screen.

  • Rick indicated a circle of white plastic, scaled like the face of the oscilloscope.

    The Golden Skull John Blaine
  • He turned it slightly then began watching the oscilloscope closely.

    All In The Mind Gene L. Henderson
  • Next, of course, an oscilloscope to check the pulse as it was beamed out.

  • The oscilloscope blurred until, by great effort, he brought it into focus again.

    All In The Mind Gene L. Henderson
  • David MacHeath watched a blue line wriggle its way erratically across the face of an oscilloscope.

    Psichopath Gordon Randall Garrett
  • The oscilloscope flickered as he readjusted, a new trace appeared.

    Sentiment, Inc. Poul William Anderson
  • He sat in a dimly-lighted room, facing three oscilloscope screens.

    Pushbutton War Joseph P. Martino
British Dictionary definitions for oscilloscope


an instrument for producing a representation of a quantity that rapidly changes with time on the screen of a cathode-ray tube. The changes are converted into electric signals, which are applied to plates in the cathode-ray tube. Changes in the magnitude of the potential across the plates deflect the electron beam and thus produce a trace on the screen
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 oscilloscope

"instrument for visually recording an electrical wave," 1915, a hybrid formed from Latin oscillare "to swing" (see oscillation) + -scope.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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oscilloscope in Medicine

oscilloscope os·cil·lo·scope (ə-sĭl'ə-skōp')
An electronic instrument that produces an instantaneous trace on the screen that corresponds to oscillations of voltage and current.

os·cil'lo·scop'ic (-skŏp'ĭk) 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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oscilloscope in Science
An electronic instrument used to observe and measure changing electrical signals. The amplitude of the signal as it varies with time is displayed graphically on a screen as a line stretching from left to right, with displacements up and down indicating the amplitude of the signal. Oscilloscopes are used to diagnose problems in electronic signal-processing devises, such as computers or stereos, and to monitor electrical activity in the body, such as that of heartbeats.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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