[moj-uh-ley-shuh n, mod-yuh-]


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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for modulation

intonation, inflection, tone, pitch

Examples from the Web for modulation

Contemporary Examples of modulation

  • They are groping for some modulation, some way to translate complicated moral intuitions into rules a society can live by.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How to End the Abortion Wars

    David Frum

    August 20, 2012

Historical Examples of modulation

  • 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.


    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

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 (def. 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 beamSee 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

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

modulation in Medicine




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