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.

  • 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.
  • transitive verb rare To cause to move as a wave; to put in motion.

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.]


  • Payments in dollar terms fluctuate with currency markets.

    Borrowing House Money From Abroad

  • A clear conception means a determinate conception; one which does not fluctuate, which is not one thing to-day and another to-morrow, but remains fixed and invariable, except when, from the progress of our knowledge, or the correction of some error, we consciously add to it or alter it.

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  • "Balances fluctuate, which is why we offer clients the option of an average combined monthly balance in their checking and savings account to avoid a service fee," Steve Troutner, Citi's head of consumer and small-business banking, said in an e-mail statement.

  • For instance, Goldman disclosed in its 2009 annual report that although its balance sheet can "fluctuate," asset levels at the ends of quarters are "typically not materially different" from their levels in the midst of the quarter.

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  • They don't look too bad, but we've seen them kind of fluctuate to about 15 to 17 miles per hour.

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  • What happens with these snow bands, Don and Fredricka, they kind of fluctuate and oscillate.

    CNN Transcript Feb 8, 2007

  • Note the winds are fierce and the snow is blowing, so we're likely to see these snowfall amounts kind of fluctuate throughout the day today.

    CNN Transcript Feb 12, 2006

  • On Asia, first of all, we've seen operating margin there kind of fluctuate, swing pretty wildly between about 13% and 16%.

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  • To use these power sources, costs such as transportation and supply fluctuate, meaning city energy bills also ebb and flow.

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  • To use these power sources, costs such as transportation and supply fluctuate, meaning city energy bills also ebb and flow.

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