Definition of modulate in English:



  • 1Exert a modifying or controlling influence on.

    ‘the state attempts to modulate private business's cash flow’
    • ‘This transition is under endogenous control, but is modulated by more or less favourable environmental conditions which shorten or lengthen this period.’
    • ‘The fuel injector is pulse-width modulated to control the fuel delivery and therefore the heat input, in order to maintain a preset filter inlet gas temperature.’
    • ‘Serotonin also regulates or modulates a variety of behaviors in many animal species, including aggression, feeding, learning, locomotion, sleep, and mood.’
    • ‘In contrast, the monopolar device uses a thermocouple imbedded in its tip to control the surface temperature of the probe by modulating the power delivery.’
    • ‘Social influences also operate to modulate nicotine's effects.’
    • ‘How might regulatory thin filaments modulate kinetic steps associated with the cross-bridge cycle?’
    • ‘Methods and apparatuses for display systems which modulate a control electrode to cause an electro-optic layer to be reset to a state in which display data is not viewable.’
    • ‘This influence works both by modulating endocrine function such as insulin secretion and by increasing the rate of glycogenolysis and fatty acid mobilization.’
    • ‘Generally more economical shower controls modulate only temperature.’
    • ‘Instead, in coastal waters, responses to light are modulated by other environmental influences, such as pressure, salinity, or temperature.’
    • ‘Members can modulate the controls or turn them off.’
    • ‘Of course, any attempt to modulate the activity of these enzymes requires an understanding of the catalytic steps at the molecular level.’
    • ‘Much of this effort will be directed, in one form or other, at modulating the regulatory systems controlling physiological systems.’
    • ‘Outsourcing provides the flexibility necessary for a company to modulate its activities, control its burn rate, and stop and start projects quickly.’
    • ‘The release of the agent is prolonged over a period of time, and the delivery may be modulated and/or controlled.’
    • ‘Nowadays, our views of the architectural landscape are modulated by the accelerator pedal and the remote control.’
    • ‘It has occasionally purchased this labor through limited immigration, which it modulates and controls, often in ridiculous ways.’
    • ‘Immunonutrients have been shown to upregulate host immune response, to control inflammatory response, and to modulate nitrogen balance and protein synthesis after injury.’
    • ‘Receptor-ligand bonds that mediate cell adhesion are often subjected to forces that regulate their dissociation via modulating off-rates.’
    • ‘And the people who have this disorder have also a disturbancing modifying or modulating emotional response and sometimes it can be quite violent.’
    regulate, adjust, set, attune, balance, harmonize, temper, modify, moderate
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  • 2Vary the strength, tone, or pitch of (one's voice)

    ‘we all modulate our voice by hearing it’
    • ‘His voice was well modulated, and his speech slow and strongly articulated.’
    • ‘A barely audible, beautifully modulated voice recounts some mundane or tragic moment, as it relays from one audio station to another.’
    • ‘Ethan questioned her, a hint of irritation in his deeply modulated voice.’
    • ‘Sue had commented how differently from my father I spoke, she said that all my sentences were perfectly formed as they came out, with my voice modulated.’
    • ‘But the carefully modulated tones of this career diplomat were not the red meat that Fleet Street desired.’
    • ‘This sound or ‘voice’ is modulated and modified by structures like the lips, tongue and palate to produce decipherable speech.’
    • ‘She stared and directed her resonant voice into the distance as if to an unseen audience, and modulated her tones like an orator.’
    • ‘And, like any good schoolteacher, she modulates her voice to great effect; during moments of particular drama, she is known for speaking to juries in a barely audible whisper.’
    • ‘‘Uh, I don't know that I wish to discuss that with you,’ I respond, modulating my tones to imply he's being left out on some juicy gossip.’
    • ‘His eyes gleamed hellishly in his red face: but the voice was rich, modulated, booming and kindly.’
    • ‘The four poems published here, found among his papers-and dated to signal they were finished-are moving in the way the voice modulates from one to the next.’
    • ‘When she speaks, and she is a dramatic storyteller, her voice seems modulated to correspond to the mood of the moment with an exacting precision.’
    • ‘The way one modulates the voice, its pitch, tone and tenor to speak to different persons is nothing but mimicry.’
    • ‘At first his voice starts to modulate like a radio.’
    • ‘He modulated his voice to sound like a witch of popular legend - high, scratchy, and cracked.’
    • ‘The man could modulate his voice into a great variety of tones, booming, hushed, lyrical, penitent, frightened.’
    • ‘In this respect he is closer to stand up comedian than exponent of crime cinema, enacting all the parts in his sketches with one variously modulated voice.’
    • ‘In general, the successful seducers paid more attention to and were more nuanced in modulating the prosodic aspects of their voices than were the unsuccessful seducers.’
    adjust, change the tone of, vary, inflect
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    1. 2.1 Alter the amplitude or frequency of (an electromagnetic wave or other oscillation) in accordance with the variations of a second signal, typically one of a lower frequency.
      ‘radio waves are modulated to carry the analogue information of the voice’
      • ‘During external to internal communication, an external modulator modulates the carrier signal with information contained in the external communication device.’
      • ‘The duty cycle is variably selectable with either first or second pulse width modulated frequency.’
      • ‘The signal can be modulated in either amplitude or frequency to carry data.’
      • ‘The chip then modulates the waves that the tag sends back to the reader and the reader converts the new waves into digital data.’
      • ‘Multiple radio channel frequency signals that are modulated with respective information modulation are transmitted from a common antenna at multiple radio frequencies.’
      • ‘Digital data encoding in video signals using data modulated carrier signals at non-peaks in video spectra’
      • ‘Rolling the ball turns the chopper wheels, which in turn modulate the signal received by the photodetectors.’
      • ‘Each laser source modulates the input signal onto a wavelength that is distinct from a wavelength of each other laser source.’
      • ‘In the present system, a current supply modulates both diode lasers at different frequencies so that their aerosol scatter signals may be distinguished.’
      • ‘Glucose modulates the fluorescent signal by binding reversibly to the boronic acid component attached to the quencher molecule.’
      • ‘All these signals are modulated, multiplexed, layered, and intermixed into a cacophanous soup - but one that none of our natural senses can detect.’
      • ‘Since the signals the service personnel will be working with are digitally modulated analog carriers, new test equipment and measurement metrics are needed.’
      • ‘A method and apparatus for equalizing a received quadrature amplitude modulated signal is disclosed.’
      • ‘Method and apparatus for transmitting broadband amplitude modulated radio frequency signals over optical links’
      • ‘The x-ray photons trigger the ejection of krypton electrons with varying angular distributions of momenta modulated by the oscillating laser field.’
      • ‘Then a biphasic pulse was sent through each cell simultaneously, which was then modulated to reflect the pixel value.’
      • ‘The operation on a previously modulated wave in such a way that it will have substantially the same characteristics as the original modulating wave.’
      • ‘As is proposed to be the case for the plant photoreceptors, this oscillation may modulate light resetting of the clock and affect the shape of the phase response curve.’
      • ‘The amplitude gain is determined by the detected photocurrent, which is used to modulate the amplitude of the local oscillator.’
      • ‘The apparatus is advantageously used in an interferometer to form a device that modulates the amplitude of the optical signal.’
    2. 2.2Music no object Change from one key to another.
      ‘the first half of the melody, modulating from E minor to G’
      • ‘However, there were exceptions; Domenico Scarlatti, for example, sometimes chose to modulate to the mediant at the end of the first section.’
      • ‘Each of the first movements is, in its way, a grand synthesis of ritornello and sonata form: only one, K.449, modulates out of the home key in the opening tutti.’
      • ‘Having the accompanying instrumentalists modulate to a higher key on the final stanza of a hymn, or adding a choral descant or special choral ending to the hymn, can add interest to the singing.’
      • ‘In any case, this limits a composer's ability to modulate on the piano, where players can't adjust intonation, except crudely and awkwardly, while they perform.’
      • ‘Students should examine the cadences and identify the key to which it modulates.’
    3. 2.3modulate intono object Change from one form or condition into (another)
      ‘the fraught silence would modulate into conciliatory monosyllables’
      • ‘It is likely that the military activity will have to modulate into the form of intensive, highly militarised policing which characterised the last 30 years in Northern Ireland.’
      • ‘What follows is a series of reflections on the assumptions and purposes of cultural musicology, which are meant to modulate into reflections on music and musical experience more broadly.’
      • ‘Alliteration intensifies the tension, as the double hardness of c's modulates into the sibilance of ‘soule to sence.’’
      • ‘After she first leaves home, Janet's guilty sense of her own destructiveness modulates into a series of strange eating disorders.’
      • ‘This morning I'd allowed my gazing into space to modulate into a full-scale reverie, and I'd lost track completely.’
      • ‘Usually a poem begins in a conversational manner and modulates into intense lyricism.’
      • ‘After this opening, the images of aggression modulate into images that expose the force of her wisdom and erotic energy.’
      • ‘In later writings they modulate into fables, culminating in the brilliant Kafkaesque miniatures of With One Skin Less.’
      • ‘The data is then formatted with the proper timing marks and modulated into a digital serial stream.’
      • ‘This sound is then modulated into speech by the precise movements of the tongue and lips.’


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘intone a song’): from Latin modulat- ‘measured, made melody’, from the verb modulari, from modulus ‘measure’ (see modulus).