See more synonyms for pulse on Thesaurus.com
  1. the regular throbbing of the arteries, caused by the successive contractions of the heart, especially as may be felt at an artery, as at the wrist.
  2. a single pulsation, or beat or throb, of the arteries or heart.
  3. the rhythmic recurrence of strokes, vibrations, or undulations.
  4. a single stroke, vibration, or undulation.
  5. Electricity. a momentary, sudden fluctuation in an electrical quantity, as in voltage or current.
  6. Physics. a single, abrupt emission of particles or radiation.
  7. a throb of life, emotion, etc.
  8. vitality.
  9. the general attitude, sentiment, preference, etc., as of the public.
verb (used without object), pulsed, puls·ing.
  1. to beat or throb; pulsate.
  2. to beat, vibrate, or undulate.
  3. Physics. to emit particles or radiation periodically in short bursts.
verb (used with object), pulsed, puls·ing.
  1. to cause to pulse.
  2. Medicine/Medical. to administer (medication) in interrupted, often concentrated dosages to avoid unwanted side effects.

Origin of pulse

1300–50; < Latin pulsus a beat, equivalent to *peld-, base of pellere to set in motion by beating or striking (cf. impel) + -tus, suffix of v. action, with dt < s and backing and raising of e before velar l; replacing Middle English pous < Middle French < Latin, as above
Related formsun·puls·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pulsing


  1. physiol
    1. the rhythmic contraction and expansion of an artery at each beat of the heart, often discernible to the touch at points such as the wrists
    2. a single pulsation of the heart or arteries
  2. physics electronics
    1. a transient sharp change in voltage, current, or some other quantity normally constant in a system
    2. one of a series of such transient disturbances, usually recurring at regular intervals and having a characteristic geometric shape
    3. (as modifier)a pulse generator Less common name: impulse
    1. a recurrent rhythmic series of beats, waves, vibrations, etc
    2. any single beat, wave, etc, in such a series
  3. bustle, vitality, or excitementthe pulse of a city
  4. the feelings or thoughts of a group or society as they can be measuredthe pulse of the voters
  5. keep one's finger on the pulse to be well-informed about current events
  1. (intr) to beat, throb, or vibrate
  2. (tr) to provide an electronic pulse to operate (a slide projector)
Derived Formspulseless, adjective

Word Origin for pulse

C14 pous, from Latin pulsus a beating, from pellere to beat


  1. the edible seeds of any of several leguminous plants, such as peas, beans, and lentils
  2. the plant producing any of these seeds

Word Origin for pulse

C13 pols, from Old French, from Latin puls pottage of pulse
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 pulsing



"a throb, a beat," early 14c., from Old French pous, pulse (late 12c., Modern French pouls) and directly from Latin pulsus (in pulsus venarum "beating from the blood in the veins"), past participle of pellere "to push, drive," from PIE *pel- (6) "to thrust, strike, drive" (cf. Greek pallein "to wield, brandish, swing," pelemizein "to shake, cause to tremble"). Extended usages from 16c. Figurative use for "life, vitality, essential energy" is from 1530s.



"peas, beans, lentils," late 13c., from Old French pouls, pols and directly from Latin puls "thick gruel, porridge, mush," probably via Etruscan, from Greek poltos "porridge" made from flour, from PIE *pel- (1) "dust, flour" (see pollen; also cf. poultice).



"to beat, throb," early 15c., from pulse (n.1) or else from Latin pulsare "to beat, throb," and in part from French. Related: Pulsed; pulsing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pulsing in Medicine


  1. The rhythmical dilation of arteries produced when blood is pumped outward by regular contractions of the heart, especially as palpated at the wrist or in the neck.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

pulsing in Science


  1. The rhythmic expansion and contraction of the arteries as blood is pumped through them by the heart. The pulse can be felt at several parts of the body, as over the carotid and radial arteries.
  2. A dose of a medication or other substance given over a short period of time, usually repetitively.
    1. A brief sudden change in a normally constant quantity, such as an electric current or field.
    2. Any of a series of intermittent occurrences characterized by a brief sudden change in a quantity.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with pulsing


see take the pulse of.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.