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[in-ter-fuh-rom-i-ter] /ˌɪn tər fəˈrɒm ɪ tər/
Optics. a device that separates a beam of light into two ray beams, usually by means of reflection, and that brings the rays together to produce interference, used to measure wavelength, index of refraction, and astronomical distances.
Astronomy. an instrument for measuring the angular separation of double stars or the diameter of giant stars by means of the interference phenomena of light emitted by these stars.
Origin of interferometer
First recorded in 1895-1900; interfere + -o- + -meter
Related forms
[in-ter-feer-uh-me-trik] /ˌɪn tərˌfɪər əˈmɛ trɪk/ (Show IPA),
interferometrically, adverb
interferometry, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for interferometer
Historical Examples
  • The interferometer has much refined the indications of the balance.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • The resolving power of the interferometer is found to be somewhat more than double that of a telescope of the same aperture.

    Astronomy David Todd
  • By applying the interferometer method to Capella, arc distances of much less than one-twentieth of a second of arc were measured.

    Astronomy David Todd
  • Many diverse applications of the interferometer have been developed, as, for example, in thermometry.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • In the interferometer the approach of the small ball to the large one produced a displacement of seven whole fringes.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
British Dictionary definitions for interferometer


(physics) any acoustic, optical, or microwave instrument that uses interference patterns or fringes to make accurate measurements of wavelength, wave velocity, distance, etc
(astronomy) a radio or optical array consisting of two or more telescopes separated by a known distance and connected so that the radiation from a source in space undergoes interference, enabling the source to be imaged or the position of the source to be accurately determined
Derived Forms
interferometric (ˌɪntəˌfɛrəˈmɛtrɪk) adjective
interferometrically, adverb
interferometry, noun
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 interferometer

"instrument for measuring the interference of light waves," 1897, a hybrid from interfere + meter (3).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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interferometer in Science
Any of several optical, acoustic, or radio frequency instruments that use interference phenomena between a reference wave and an experimental wave or between two parts of an experimental wave to determine wavelengths and wave velocities, measure very small distances and thicknesses, and calculate indices of refraction.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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