[ strohb ]
/ stroʊb /
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Also called strobe light . stroboscope (def. 2a).
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Origin of strobe

First recorded in 1940–45; shortened form
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does strobe mean?

Strobe is another name for a strobe light—a type of specialized lamp that produces a continuous series of short, bright flashes of light.

Strobe lights are also called stroboscopes or stroboscopic lamps.

Strobe can also be used as a verb meaning to flash in such a way.

The kind of rapid flashing produced by a strobe light (called strobe lighting) has the effect of seeming to freeze the movement of things in motion. This happens because the thing that’s moving—such as a person dancing—is only lit up for a fraction of a second.

Strobe lights are associated with their use at concerts, raves, and dance clubs, but they also have technical uses in photography. Because strobes produce very short, extremely bright bursts of light, they can be used in conjunction with a camera to photograph a rapidly moving object, such as a bullet, for such a short duration that it will appear to be standing still in the resulting photo. Strobes also have other scientific uses involving the measurement of vibration and other types of high-speed motion.

Strobes look like they’re just flashing on and off, but this effect is usually produced by an electric discharge in a gas or a disc that rotates in front of a light source.

Example: I hate going to concerts that use strobes—I end up having to close my eyes most of the time to shield them from the bright flashes.

Where does strobe come from?

Strobe is a relatively recent word. The first records of the word come from around the 1940s. It’s a shortening of the word stroboscopic, the first part of which comes from the Greek strobos, meaning “a twisting” or “a whirling.” (The term stroboscopic is used in terms like stroboscopic lamp and stroboscopic microscope.)

Strobe lights might look cool, but they can cause seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy. They can also cause discomfort in people with sensitivity to light. Some TV shows and movies show a warning before they start informing viewers that strobe effects will be used.

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What are some synonyms for strobe?

What are some words that share a root or word element with strobe


What are some words that often get used in discussing strobe?

How is strobe used in real life?

Strobes are closely associated with their use in lighting effects for concerts and raves, but they also have technical and scientific uses.



Try using strobe!

Which of the following words is LEAST likely to be used to describe the lighting effect produced by a strobe?

A. flashing
B. pulsing
C. uninterrupted
D. intermittent

How to use strobe in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for strobe

/ (strəʊb) /

to give the appearance of arrested or slow motion by using intermittent illumination
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

Scientific definitions for strobe

[ strōb ]

A strobe light.
A stroboscope.
A spot of higher than normal intensity in the sweep of an indicator on a scanning device, as on a radar screen, used as a reference mark for determining the position or distance of the object scanned or detected.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.