Definition of decibel in English:


(also dB)


  • 1A unit used to measure the intensity of a sound or the power level of an electrical signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale.

    • ‘Hearing protection is recommended when sound exceeds 85 decibels.’
    • ‘Because the range of sound pressures that can be heard is so large, a logarithmic scale of decibels is used to measure sound intensity.’
    • ‘Intensity is measured in decibels, most commonly using the decibel ‘A’ scale (dbA).’
    • ‘When the woman had the noise level tested, it measured 67 to 72 decibels.’
    • ‘The EU directive will reduce the maximum sound level to 85 decibels, a drop of 20%.’
    • ‘Efficiency of the speakers determines the distance sound will travel and is measured in terms of decibels, the higher the better.’
    • ‘Sound pressure against the ears is measured in decibels.’
    • ‘We have sound measurements exceeding 100 decibels.’
    • ‘Humans feel pain when they hear sounds of 120 decibels, a level typically reached next to the speakers at a rock concert.’
    • ‘The volume of sound is measured in decibels (dB).’
    • ‘To know if a sound is loud enough to damage your ears, it is important to know both the loudness level (measured in decibels, dBA) and the length of exposure to the sound.’
    • ‘An aircraft taking off produces about 140 decibels of noise and motorways a further 75 decibels, both above levels deemed unacceptable by some health experts.’
    • ‘Vibrations are measured in decibels (d.b.g.) which is the level of vibration.’
    • ‘The device can create a sound at 120 decibels, loud enough to disable enemy combatants.’
    • ‘The meter, which comes with instructions, will measure the intensity of the sound in decibels.’
    • ‘Mr Cochrane has bought his own sound meter and claims to have recorded levels of 105 decibels inside his house.’
    • ‘The 215 - decibel sound waves can travel 300 miles through the ocean.’
    • ‘According to the results, the noise on Sunday was 58 decibels, compared to 80 decibels on Friday afternoon.’
    • ‘In the Stotts' front garden, they found sound levels reached 97.8 decibels, which can cause serious damage to the ears.’
    • ‘Noise levels will not exceed 45 decibels when measured over any 15 minute period between 12 midnight and 8a.m.’
    1. 1.1(in general use) a degree of loudness.
      ‘his voice went up several decibels’
      • ‘She glared at me, her voice rising up ten decibels.’
      • ‘Failing to get the desired answer, she raised her voice several decibels’
      • ‘But the three or four populated tables were generating very few decibels, either out of respect for the luxy environment or because they couldn't.’
      • ‘Former star Monica Seles first raised the decibels to the level where you had to turn the sound down on the television set, so that young children could get to sleep.’
      • ‘Mr. Russell apparently had not overheard the conversation, as the din in the room had risen a few decibels.’
      • ‘Well, it wasn't rock and roll as you would recognise it but there was certainly enough power and decibels to give the lugholes a good stinging.’
      • ‘The whine level reached decibels previously unheard of.’


Early 20th century: from deci- ten + bel (the unit being one tenth of a bel).