[ fluhk-choo-eyt ]
/ ˈflʌk tʃuˌeɪt /
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See synonyms for: fluctuate / fluctuated / fluctuating on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object), fluc·tu·at·ed, fluc·tu·at·ing.

to change continually; shift back and forth; vary irregularly: The price of gold fluctuated wildly last month.
to move back and forth in waves.

verb (used with object), fluc·tu·at·ed, fluc·tu·at·ing.

to cause to fluctuate.



In effect, this quiz will prove whether or not you have the skills to know the difference between “affect” and “effect.”
Question 1 of 7
The rainy weather could not ________ my elated spirits on my graduation day.

Origin of fluctuate

First recorded in 1625–35; from Latin fluctuātus “undulated,” past participle of fluctuāre “to flow,” equivalent to fluctu(s) “a flowing” (derivative of fluere “to flow”) + -ātus-ate1
1. See waver1.
non·fluc·tu·at·ing, adjectiveun·fluc·tu·at·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does fluctuate mean?

Fluctuate means to continually change or shift back and forth.

The verb is most commonly used in the context of abstract or intangible things that frequently change, such as temperature, the stock market, or someone’s mood.

This kind of continual change is called fluctuation.

Example: The volume on my TV keeps fluctuating—it gets louder during commercials and then it gets quiet again when the show comes back on.

Where does fluctuate come from?

The first records of the word fluctuate come from the 1600s. It comes from the Latin verb fluctuāre, meaning “to flow,” from fluctus, “a wave.”

Waves in the ocean are always in motion, rising, falling, going back and forth—they’re always fluctuating. Still, fluctuate is most commonly applied to nonphysical things. The amount of money in your bank account will fluctuate as you make deposits and withdrawals. Fluctuation may be predictable or unpredictable. The temperature in deserts often regularly fluctuates between the day, when it’s very hot, and the night, when it can get very cold. But a person’s mood might fluctuate—between happy and grumpy, for example—much more unpredictably.

Things that fluctuate can be said to be in a state of flux—continuous change. (The word flux comes from the same root as fluctuate).

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to fluctuate?

  • fluctuation (noun)
  • nonfluctuating (adjective)
  • unfluctuating (adjective)

What are some synonyms for fluctuate?

What are some words that share a root or word element with fluctuate

What are some words that often get used in discussing fluctuate?

How is fluctuate used in real life?

Fluctuate can be used in all kinds of contexts, but it’s most often used in discussion of intangible things.



Try using fluctuate!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym for fluctuate

A. waver
B. veer
C. oscillate
D. persist

British Dictionary definitions for fluctuate

/ (ˈflʌktjʊˌeɪt) /


to change or cause to change position constantly; be or make unstable; waver or vary
(intr) to rise and fall like a wave; undulate
C17: from Latin fluctuāre, from fluctus a wave, from fluere to flow
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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