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verb (used without object), pul·sat·ed, pul·sat·ing.
  1. to expand and contract rhythmically, as the heart; beat; throb.
  2. to vibrate; quiver.
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Origin of pulsate

1785–95; < Latin pulsātus, past participle of pulsāre to batter, strike, make (strings) vibrate. See pulse1, -ate1
Related formsnon·pul·sat·ing, adjectiveun·pul·sat·ing, adjective


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1. pulse.

Synonym study

1. Pulsate, beat, palpitate, throb refer to the recurrent vibratory movement of the heart, the pulse, etc. To pulsate is to move in a definite rhythm, temporarily or for a longer duration: Blood pulsates in the arteries. To beat is to repeat a vibration or pulsation regularly for some time: One's heart beats many times a minute. To palpitate is to beat at a rapid rate, often producing a flutter: to palpitate with excitement. To throb is to beat with an unusual force that is often associated with pain or heightened emotion or sensation: to throb with terror.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pulsate


verb (intr)
  1. to expand and contract with a rhythmic beat; throb
  2. physics to vary in intensity, magnitude, size, etcthe current was pulsating
  3. to quiver or vibrate
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Derived Formspulsative (ˈpʌlsətɪv), adjectivepulsatively, adverb

Word Origin

C18: from Latin pulsāre to push
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 pulsate


1741, back-formation from pulsation, from Latin pulsatus, past participle of pulsare "to beat against, strike upon" (see pulsation). Related: Pulsated; pulsating; pulsatile.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pulsate in Medicine


  1. To expand and contract rhythmically; beat.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.