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[tran-zis-ter] /trænˈzɪs tər/
Electronics. a semiconductor device that amplifies, oscillates, or switches the flow of current between two terminals by varying the current or voltage between one of the terminals and a third: although much smaller in size than a vacuum tube, it performs similar functions without requiring current to heat a cathode.
Informal. a transistorized radio.
Informal. transistorized:
a transistor radio.
1945-50; trans(fer) + (res)istor Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for transistor
  • In your paper, you write that the main driver of increased performance has been reducing transistor sizes.
  • The result is a flexible transistor a few millimetres thick.
  • The power dissipated by the switching of a transistor is determined by the size of the gate.
  • All digital chips are made from the same basic building block: the transistor.
  • We may be controlling it, as a transistor controls the flow of electricity.
  • He can be told what makes a transistor radio work but he cannot find out for himself.
  • His sole possession was this little tiny transistor radio with earplugs.
  • Somebody had a transistor radio, and they walked in with it.
  • The smaller a silicon transistor becomes, the more electrons it leaks.
  • And once they've built a working spin injector, researchers will still have to design a spin detector and the transistor.
British Dictionary definitions for transistor


a semiconductor device, having three or more terminals attached to electrode regions, in which current flowing between two electrodes is controlled by a voltage or current applied to one or more specified electrodes. The device is capable of amplification, etc, and has replaced the valve in most circuits since it is much smaller, more robust, and works at a much lower voltage See also junction transistor, field-effect transistor
(informal) a transistor radio
Word Origin
C20: originally a trademark, from transfer + resistor, referring to the transfer of electric signals across a resistor
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 transistor

"small electronic device," 1948, from transfer + resistor, so called because it transfers an electrical current across a resistor. Said to have been coined by U.S. electrical engineer John Robinson Pierce (1910-2002) of Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, N.J., where the device was invented in 1947. It that took over many functions of the vacuum tube. Transistor radio is first recorded 1958.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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transistor in Science
An electronic device that controls the flow of an electric current, most often used as an amplifier or switch. Transistors usually consist of three layers of semiconductor material, in which the flow of electric current across the outer layer is regulated by the voltage or current applied at the middle layer. Having replaced the vacuum tube, transistors are the basis of much modern electronic technology, including the microprocessor. See also logic circuit, logic gate.

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

transistor definition

An electronic device that can work as an amplifier, transforming weak electrical signals into strong ones. It is normally made from silicon or other semiconductors.

Note: The transistor is the basic device used in miniaturized electronic systems, such as portable radios, or as a fast switch in computers.
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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transistor in Technology

A three terminal semiconductor amplifying device, the fundamental component of most active electronic circuits, including digital electronics. The transistor was invented on 1947-12-23 at Bell Labs.
There are two kinds, the bipolar transistor (also called the junction transistor), and the field effect transistor (FET).
Transistors and other components are interconnected to make complex integrated circuits such as logic gates, microprocessors and memory.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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