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[moj-uh-ley-shuh n, mod-yuh-] /ˌmɒdʒ əˈleɪ ʃən, ˌmɒd yə-/
the act of modulating.
the state of being modulated.
Music. transition from one key to another.
  1. the use of a particular distribution of stress or pitch in a construction, as the use of rising pitch on here in John is here?
  2. the feature of a construction resulting from such use.
Origin of modulation
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin modulātiōn- (stem of modulātiō) rhythmical measure. See modulate, -ion Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for modulation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If we may take him at his word Arnold Schoenberg has a system of modulation.

    The Merry-Go-Round Carl Van Vechten
  • Her modulation of grief, in her plaintive pronunciation of the interjection, Oh!

    Venice Preserved Thomas Otway
  • This is their modulation to the dominant, their awakening to life.

    Castellinaria Henry Festing Jones
  • The modulation into an easy-going friendship was not difficult for these young people.

    Painted Veils James Huneker
  • We note this modulation particularly in Pellas and Mlisande.


    James Huneker
  • First would come a few detached sentences, like a modulation.

    Caybigan James Hopper
  • After all, it is the modulation that carries the message of the text.

  • This modulation is forbidden; therefore it must not be made.

  • Greta spoke like the wardresses, in a tone out of which all modulation had gone.

    The Messenger

    Elizabeth Robins
British Dictionary definitions for modulation


the act of modulating or the condition of being modulated
(music) the transition from one key to another
  1. another word for intonation (sense 1)
  2. the grammatical expression of modality
(electrical engineering)
  1. the act or process of superimposing the amplitude, frequency, phase, etc, of a wave or signal onto another wave (the carrier wave) or signal or onto an electron beam See also amplitude modulation, frequency modulation, phase modulation, velocity modulation
  2. the variation of the modulated signal
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 modulation

late 14c., "act of singing or making music," from Old French modulation "act of making music" (14c.), or directly from Latin modulationem (nominative modulatio) "rhythmical measure, singing and playing, melody," noun of action from past participle stem of modulari "regulate, measure off properly, measure rhythmically; play, play upon," from modulus (see module). Meaning "act of regulating according to measure or proportion" is from 1530s. Musical sense of "action of process of changing key" is first recorded 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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modulation in Medicine

modulation mod·u·la·tion (mŏj'ə-lā'shən)

  1. The functional and morphological fluctuation of cells in response to changing environmental conditions.

  2. The variation of a property in an electromagnetic wave or signal, such as amplitude, frequency, or phase.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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