Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To swing back and forth with a steady, uninterrupted rhythm.
  • intransitive v. To waver, as between conflicting opinions or courses of action; vacillate: "The court has oscillated over the decades from more liberal to less, more conservative to less, depending upon who was president at the time of vacancies” ( Gordon J. Humphrey). See Synonyms at swing.
  • intransitive v. Physics To vary between alternate extremes, usually within a definable period of time.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To swing back and forth, especially if with a regular rhythm.
  • v. To vacillate between conflicting opinions, etc.
  • v. To vary above and below a mean value.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To move backward and forward; to vibrate like a pendulum; to swing; to sway.
  • intransitive v. To vary or fluctuate between fixed limits; to act or move in a fickle or fluctuating manner; to change repeatedly, back and forth.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To swing; move backward and forward; vibrate, as a pendulum.
  • Hence To vary or fluctuate; waver.
  • Synonyms Vacillate, Waver, etc. See fluctuate.
  • To cause to swing or move backward and forward; cause to vibrate or swing to and fro.

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

  • v. be undecided about something; waver between conflicting positions or courses of action
  • v. move or swing from side to side regularly

Etymologies

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

Latin ōscillāre, ōscillāt-, from ōscillum, swing, probably from ōscillum, small mask of Bacchus, diminutive of ōs, mouth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin oscillatus perfect passive particple of Latin oscillō ("swing"), from oscillum ("a swing"), usually identified with oscillum ("a little face or mask hung to a tree and swaying with the wind"), diminutive of os ("mouth, face").

Examples

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • my unorthodox personality oscillates au jour le jour

    July 5, 2011

  • Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!

    October 18, 2008

  • to oscillate is to move laterally

    August 13, 2007