• synonyms


verb (used without object), fluc·tu·at·ed, fluc·tu·at·ing.
  1. to change continually; shift back and forth; vary irregularly: The price of gold fluctuated wildly last month.
  2. to move back and forth in waves.
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verb (used with object), fluc·tu·at·ed, fluc·tu·at·ing.
  1. to cause to fluctuate.
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Origin of fluctuate

1625–35; < Latin fluctuātus undulated, past participle of fluctuāre to flow, equivalent to fluctu(s) a flowing (derivative of fluere to flow) + -ātus -ate1
Related formsnon·fluc·tu·at·ing, adjectiveun·fluc·tu·at·ing, adjective


1. See waver1. 2. oscillate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for fluctuates

Historical Examples

  • Miss Rawlins fluctuates, as she hears the lady's story, or as she hears mine.

    Clarissa, Volume 5 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • When it becomes panicky and fluctuates and resolves itself into small unheroic deals, woman gets the job.

    Garrison's Finish

    W. B. M. Ferguson

  • Between these limits it fluctuates in a somewhat irregular way, in which the property of periodicity is not conspicuous.

  • From the former there has been an export trade for many years which fluctuates remarkably according to the demand.

  • The general rate of interest in the Philippines fluctuates from six to nine per cent.

British Dictionary definitions for fluctuates


  1. to change or cause to change position constantly; be or make unstable; waver or vary
  2. (intr) to rise and fall like a wave; undulate
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Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for fluctuates



1630s, from Latin fluctuatus, past participle of fluctuare "to undulate" (see fluctuation). Related: Fluctuated; fluctuates; fluctuating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper