[des-uh-bel, -buh l]
- a unit used to express the intensity of a sound wave, equal to 20 times the common logarithm of the ratio of the pressure produced by the sound wave to a reference pressure, usually 0.0002 microbar.
- a unit of power ratio, the number of units being equal to a constant times the logarithm to the base 10 of the intensities of two sources.
- a unit used to compare two voltages or currents, equal to 20 times the common logarithm of the ratio of the voltages or currents measured across equal resistances. Abbreviation: dB, db
Origin of decibel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for decibels
Their buzzing can reach 90 decibels, equivalent to some power motors.The Cicadas are Coming!
May 2, 2013
Will bipartisan outrage boost the decibels in D.C. loud enough for Holder to hear and heed?Why Goldman Sachs, Other Wall Street Titans Are Not Being Prosecuted
August 14, 2012
Listen to the yelp that falls just five decibels short of a motorcycle.Tennis Ladies Who Grunt
June 23, 2011
No one may blow the annoying plastic horn within the Emirates if it exceeds 100 decibels anymore.World Cup Primer
June 12, 2010
I've been forcing some Venerian puffers and scent flowers, and raised the radiation level ten decibels.World Without War
E. G. von Wald
- a unit for comparing two currents, voltages, or power levels, equal to one tenth of a bel
- a similar unit for measuring the intensity of a sound. It is equal to ten times the logarithm to the base ten of the ratio of the intensity of the sound to be measured to the intensity of some reference sound, usually the lowest audible note of the same frequency
See also perceived noise decibel
Word Origin and History for decibels
Progress in science and industry is constantly demanding new terms and one of the latest of these is the word "decibel," coined by telephone engineers to describe the efficiency of telephone circuits. It is a substitute for the phrase "transmission unit." The actual unit decided upon was first called "bel," after the inventor of the telephone. The bel, however, is larger than is needed in practice, and, therefore, a unit one-tenth as large was adopted by engineers and named the decibel. ["Popular Mechanics," May 1929]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- A unit used to express relative difference in power or intensity, usually between two acoustic or electric signals, equal to ten times the common logarithm of the ratio of the two levels.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
- A unit used to measure the power of a signal, such as an electrical signal or sound, relative to some reference level. An increase of ten decibels in the power of a signal is equivalent to increasing its power by a factor of ten. As a measure of sound intensity, a zero-decibel reference is stipulated to be the lowest level audible to the human ear; the speaking voice of most people ranges from 45 to 75 decibels.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
A unit of measurement of the volume of sounds.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.