noun Electricity.

a device that gives a visual graph of amplitude versus time of a measured signal, as voltage or current.

Origin of oscilloscope

First recorded in 1905–10; oscill(ate) + -o- + -scope
Related formsos·cil·lo·scop·ic [uh-sil-uh-skop-ik] /əˌsɪl əˈskɒp ɪk/, adjectiveos·cil·lo·scop·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for oscilloscope

Contemporary Examples of oscilloscope

  • But then, it does raise the question: What, worth saying, isn't already covered by an oscilloscope in the midst of a song?

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Absurdist Genius of Ernie Kovacs

    Andy Battaglia

    April 15, 2011

Historical Examples of oscilloscope

  • He sat in a dimly-lighted room, facing three oscilloscope screens.

    Pushbutton War

    Joseph P. Martino

  • Rick indicated a circle of white plastic, scaled like the face of the oscilloscope.

    The Golden Skull

    John Blaine

  • He turned it slightly then began watching the oscilloscope closely.

    All In The Mind

    Gene L. Henderson

  • The oscilloscope flickered as he readjusted, a new trace appeared.

    Sentiment, Inc.

    Poul William Anderson

  • Next, of course, an oscilloscope to check the pulse as it was beamed out.

British Dictionary definitions for oscilloscope



an instrument for producing a representation of a quantity that rapidly changes with time on the screen of a cathode-ray tube. The changes are converted into electric signals, which are applied to plates in the cathode-ray tube. Changes in the magnitude of the potential across the plates deflect the electron beam and thus produce a trace on the screen
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 oscilloscope

"instrument for visually recording an electrical wave," 1915, a hybrid formed from Latin oscillare "to swing" (see oscillation) + -scope.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

oscilloscope in Medicine




An electronic instrument that produces an instantaneous trace on the screen that corresponds to oscillations of voltage and current.
Related formsos•cil′lo•scopic (-skŏpĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

oscilloscope in Science



An electronic instrument used to observe and measure changing electrical signals. The amplitude of the signal as it varies with time is displayed graphically on a screen as a line stretching from left to right, with displacements up and down indicating the amplitude of the signal. Oscilloscopes are used to diagnose problems in electronic signal-processing devises, such as computers or stereos, and to monitor electrical activity in the body, such as that of heartbeats.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.