verb (used without object), pal·pi·tat·ed, pal·pi·tat·ing.

to pulsate with unusual rapidity from exertion, emotion, disease, etc.; flutter: His heart palpitated wildly.
to pulsate; quiver; throb; tremble.

verb (used with object), pal·pi·tat·ed, pal·pi·tat·ing.

to cause to pulsate or tremble.

Origin of palpitate

1615–25; < Latin palpitātus, past participle of palpitāre to pulsate, frequentative of palpāre to stroke. See palpus, -ate1
Related formspal·pi·tat·ing·ly, adverbun·pal·pi·tat·ing, adjective

Synonym study

1. See pulsate. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for palpitating

pound, quiver, throb, pulsate, pulse, shiver, vibrate, tremble, flutter, pitter-patter

Examples from the Web for palpitating

Historical Examples of palpitating

  • They were sorry for the little white-faced, palpitating thing.

  • When he was finally in the coat, she was rather flushed and palpitating.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • They stood before him palpitating like birds, poised, tense for flight.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • Then Pierre, having quieted his palpitating heart, drew near.

  • I stood by with a palpitating heart as he turned the lock and opened the door.

British Dictionary definitions for palpitating


verb (intr)

(of the heart) to beat with abnormal rapidity
to flutter or tremble
Derived Formspalpitant, adjectivepalpitation, noun

Word Origin for palpitate

C17: from Latin palpitāre to throb, from palpāre to stroke
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 palpitating



1620s, from Latin palpitatus, past participle of palpitare "to throb, flutter" (see palpitation). Related: Palpitated; palpitating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper