[ stroh-buh-skohp, strob-uh- ]
/ ˈstroʊ bəˌskoʊp, ˈstrɒb ə- /
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a device for studying the motion of a body, especially a body in rapid revolution or vibration, by making the motion appear to slow down or stop, as by periodically illuminating the body or viewing it through widely spaced openings in a revolving disk.
  1. Also called strobe, strobe light, stroboscopic lamp . a lamp capable of producing an extremely short, brilliant burst of light, for synchronization with a camera having a high shutter speed, in order to photograph a rapidly moving object, as a bullet, for such a short duration that it will appear to be standing still.
  2. the device and equipment for holding and firing such a lamp.
such a lamp used for creating special lighting effects, as in a theater or discotheque or at a rock concert.



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Origin of stroboscope

1830–40; <Greek stróbo(s) action of whirling + -scope
stro·bo·scop·ic [stroh-buh-skop-ik, strob-uh-], /ˌstroʊ bəˈskɒp ɪk, ˌstrɒb ə-/, stro·bo·scop·i·cal, adjectivestro·bos·co·py [struh-bos-kuh-pee], /strəˈbɒs kə pi/, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What is a stroboscope?

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

They can also be called strobes or stroboscopic lamps.

The kind of rapid flashing produced by a stroboscope (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. Stroboscopes 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.

Stroboscopes are associated with their use at concerts, raves, and dance clubs, but in these cases they’re more likely to be called strobes or strobe lights. The word stroboscope is typically used when such devices are used in technical ways, such as for photography. Because they 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. Stroboscopes also have other scientific uses involving the measurement of vibration and other types of high-speed motion. The term stroboscope sometimes refers to more specialized devices used for these specific purposes.

Example: By using a stroboscope, we were able to capture the extremely rapid wing beats of a hummingbird.

Where does stroboscope come from?

The first records of the word stroboscope come from around the 1830s. The first part of the word comes from the Greek strobos, meaning “a twisting” or “a whirling.” The ending, -scope, is used in the names of other optical tools, such as telescope and microscope.

The adjective form of stroboscope, stroboscopic, is used in the terms stroboscopic lamp (a synonym for stroboscope) and stroboscopic microscope (a specialized microscope that uses a strobing effect to aid in observations).

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What are some other forms related to stroboscope?

  • stroboscopic (adjective)
  • stroboscopical (adjective)
  • stroboscopy (noun)

What are some synonyms for stroboscope?

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


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

How is stroboscope used in real life?

The word stroboscope can be used as a synonym for strobe light, but it’s usually used in a technical or scientific context.



Try using stroboscope!

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

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

British Dictionary definitions for stroboscope

/ (ˈstrəʊbəˌskəʊp) /


an instrument producing a flashing light, the frequency of which can be synchronized with some multiple of the frequency of rotation, vibration, or operation of an object, etc, making it appear stationary. It is used to determine speeds of rotation or vibration, or to adjust objects or partsSometimes shortened to: strobe
a similar device synchronized with the opening of the shutter of a camera so that a series of still photographs can be taken of a moving object
stroboscopic (ˌstrəʊbəˈskɒpɪk) or stroboscopical, adjectivestroboscopically, adverb
C19: from strobo-, from Greek strobos a twisting, whirling + -scope
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 stroboscope

[ strōbə-skōp′ ]

Any of various instruments used to observe moving objects by making them appear stationary, especially with pulsed illumination or mechanical devices that intermittently interrupt observation.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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