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positive feedback

noun, Electronics.
See under feedback (def 1).


[feed-bak] /ˈfidˌbæk/
  1. the process of returning part of the output of a circuit, system, or device to the input, either to oppose the input (negative feedback) or to aid the input (positive feedback)
  2. acoustic feedback.
the furnishing of data concerning the operation or output of a machine to an automatic control device or to the machine itself, so that subsequent or ongoing operations of the machine can be altered or corrected.
a reaction or response to a particular process or activity:
He got very little feedback from his speech.
evaluative information derived from such a reaction or response:
to study the feedback from an audience survey.
Psychology. knowledge of the results of any behavior, considered as influencing or modifying further performance.
Compare biofeedback.
Biology. a self-regulatory biological system, as in the synthesis of some hormones, in which the output or response affects the input, either positively or negatively.
1915-20; noun use of verb phrase feed back Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for positive feedback
  • More sales, more algorithm-fueled recommendations, and the positive feedback loop kicked in.
  • The relationship between investment and the overall economy is what an engineer would call a positive feedback loop.
  • However, the positive feedback effect of albedo changes would remain.
  • Dong's results suggest that inflammation and insulin resistance reinforce each other via a positive feedback loop.
  • The idea has been getting a tremendous amount of positive feedback in the hydrogen community and blogosphere.
  • The positive feedback from warming of tundra will accelerate the rate of heating.
  • There are few examples of positive feedback mechanisms in nature for the simple fact that they are unstable.
  • But even a small increase in temperature may trigger positive feedback mechanisms that will trigger runaway global warming.
  • Or, alternatively, positive feedback mechanisms that they overlooked that will make their prediction a vast vast under estimate.
  • Many of the quietest students have simply never had any positive feedback in school.
British Dictionary definitions for positive feedback

positive feedback

See feedback (sense 1)


  1. the return of part of the output of an electronic circuit, device, or mechanical system to its input, so modifying its characteristics. In negative feedback a rise in output energy reduces the input energy; in positive feedback an increase in output energy reinforces the input energy
  2. that part of the output signal fed back into the input
the return of part of the sound output by a loudspeaker to the microphone or pick-up so that a high-pitched whistle is produced
the whistling noise so produced
  1. the effect of the product of a biological pathway on the rate of an earlier step in that pathway
  2. the substance or reaction causing such an effect, such as the release of a hormone in a biochemical pathway
information in response to an inquiry, experiment, etc: there was little feedback from our questionnaire
verb, adverb
(transitive) to return (part of the output of a system) to its input
to offer or suggest (information, ideas, etc) in reaction to an inquiry, experiment, etc
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 positive feedback



1920, in the electronics sense, from feed + back (adj.). Transferred use, "information about the results of a process" is attested by 1955.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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positive feedback in Medicine

feedback feed·back (fēd'bāk')

  1. The return of a portion of the output of a process or system to the input, especially when used to maintain performance or to control a system or process.

  2. The portion of the output so returned.

  3. The return of information about the result of a process or activity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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positive feedback in Science
positive feedback  
Feedback in which the output quantity or signal adds to the input quantity or signal. Positive feedback is responsible for the squealing of microphones when placed too close to the speaker through which their input signals are amplified. Compare negative feedback.
The supply of an input to some process or system as a function of its output. See more at negative feedback, positive feedback.

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

feedback definition

A process in which a system regulates itself by monitoring its own output. That is, it “feeds back” part of its output to itself. Feedback is used to control machines; a heating system, for example, uses a thermostat to monitor and adjust its output. Feedback is also used by the human brain to control various muscles and joints.

Note: By extension, “feedback” is any response or information about the result of a process.
Note: Feedback is usually a feature of automation.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for positive feedback



To surprise and create discomposure: those grades don't faze her (1830+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Encyclopedia Article for positive feedback


in biology, a response within a system (molecule, cell, organism, or population) that influences the continued activity or productivity of that system. In essence, it is the control of a biological reaction by the end products of that reaction.

Learn more about feedback with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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