from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To vary irregularly, especially in amount.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To have a wave-like motion; rise and fall in level or degree; undulate; waver.
  • To move or pass backward and forward as if on waves; be wavering or unsteady; rise and fall; change about: as, public opinion often fluctuates; the funds or the prices of stocks fluctuate.
  • Synonyms Fluctuate, Vacillate, Waver, Oscillate, Undulate, apply to literal or figurative movements to and fro, or up and down; but undulate is used only physically, as of the sea, sound-waves, etc. Fluctuate, waver, and undulate in their figurative uses are founded upon the rise and fall of waves; oscillate refers to the swinging of a pendulum. Vacillate, and next to it waver, suggests the most of mental or moral indecision. Oscillate naturally suggests the most regular alternations of movement to and fro. Vacillate and waver are now rarely used of physical things; waver is also used of a hesitation that seems likely to end in yielding.
  • To put into a state of fluctuating or wave-like motion.
  • To cause to waver or be undecided.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb rare To cause to move as a wave; to put in motion.
  • intransitive verb To move as a wave; to roll hither and thither; to wave; to float backward and forward, as on waves.
  • intransitive verb To move now in one direction and now in another; to be wavering or unsteady; to be irresolute or undetermined; to vacillate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb intransitive To vary irregularly; to swing.
  • verb intransitive To undulate.
  • verb transitive To cause to vary irregularly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb cause to fluctuate or move in a wavelike pattern
  • verb be unstable
  • verb move or sway in a rising and falling or wavelike pattern


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin flūctuāre, flūctuāt-, from flūctus, a flowing, from past participle of fluere, to flow; see bhleu- in Indo-European roots.]


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