Definition of pulsate in US English:



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  • 1Expand and contract with strong regular movements.

    ‘blood vessels throb and pulsate’
    • ‘At one point the circle, now apparently a semi-hemisphere, appears to pulsate, half-convincing you that somewhere in this sophisticated box of tricks is a living entity.’
    • ‘The one last night was pretty mild, and mountains pulsate less than alluvial land (which is relatively gelatin to a tremor of the earth), but no matter how many times you're shaken, you never get used to quakes.’
    • ‘The atmospheres of these stars pulsate in a very regular cycle, on timescales ranging from 2 days to a few months.’
    • ‘I ask Klinck to assume the position, and I hit him as hard as I can, not stopping until my hand pulsates like a wounded, cartoon appendage.’
    • ‘When it reached the horizontal, the mattress started to pulsate, slamming itself into one side of my back, then the other.’
    • ‘The star was indeed flickering, pulsating with a dying glow.’
    • ‘The variable stars in the above image are RR Lyrae variables, single stars that pulsate with periods of about half a day.’
    • ‘Intensely expressive, she pulsates with angst in contractions, whips up her leg like a command, distorts her body into a stylized, modernist geometry.’
    • ‘When the ebb and flow of our heart diminishes, we feel separate from the vast world around us, a world in which everything breathes, pulsates, expands and contracts.’
    • ‘Under the band of Milky Way stars, we listened to crickets pulsate in the dewy grass, and watched the orange coals lick themselves with tiny flames.’
    • ‘A type of abstract art that exploits certain optical phenomena to cause a work to seem to vibrate, pulsate, or flicker.’
    • ‘Naturally you start to stroke the blob and it suddenly expands and pulsates like the exposed viscera of a panting puppy.’
    • ‘If the Universe pulsated then during the contraction he thought that time might run backward.’
    • ‘Blair returned with the grappling pole and began to extend it, gazing at the huge, deep orange jellyfish as it bobbed and pulsated next to the boat.’
    • ‘He started wondering if all cells might similarly pulsate - and if so, would they make noise?’
    • ‘The smooth fabric surface is alternately hermetically opaque during the day and eerily translucent after dark; at night the entire structure glows and pulsates like a giant jellyfish.’
    • ‘Feeling his heart pulsating strongly in his chest, he started towards her, and then stopped in his tracks.’
    • ‘As your eyes adjust, you begin to see orange and black spheres hanging from the ceiling that appear to pulsate to the industrial shop noise pounding through the walls.’
    • ‘Across one large wall, a purplish strand of smoke pulsated and contracted, cohering into a monstrous head.’
    • ‘Kolesch says unlike the full mesh wall of regular fences that line the highway, the electric fence is just several strands with some electrified wires that pulsate on contact.’
    1. 1.1often as adjective pulsating Produce a regular throbbing sensation or sound.
      ‘a pulsating headache’
      • ‘Apartment complexes turned clubs as residents celebrated the festival with pulsating music belching out from personal music systems and of course colours sprinkled all over.’
      • ‘At 18 tracks, it threatens to drag on for too long, but with pulsating songs - Ricky and This Cold - there is always something superb around the corner.’
      • ‘Pulsating music, pleasant ambience and everything one could ask for the year-end bash.’
      • ‘It is here that the Latin spirit is set free and one can imagine the Flamenco-flavoured dance clubs of London pulsating with the sound of the Trio this summer.’
      • ‘Its live, pulsating and infectious music complements original dance movements.’
      • ‘The track features a gently pulsating synthesizer under a spare, reverberating guitar melody, and is punctuated by the sporadic ebb and flow of a stuttering drum beat.’
      • ‘Hadleigh blinked and covered her eyes wishing that her pounding headache would stop pulsating behind her eyes.’
      • ‘He appears in movies and ads, regularly tours and puts out edgy, pulsating music.’
      • ‘For the past 34 years, Toronto has played host to Caribana, a dazzling carnival overflowing with pulsating steelband, calypso, and breathtaking costume displays.’
      • ‘Here, however, the ebb and flow of Takuma Itoi's sustained, pulsating textures are so regular that the proceedings soothe more than stimulate.’
      • ‘The narrow, pulsating streets of Pinar proved the exception to the province's otherwise sleepy languor.’
      • ‘Besides the taverns, there is a hot nightclub that pulsates into the early hours of the morning.’
      • ‘The music was flowing all around her, pulsating, throbbing, sweeping her up and carrying her away with it.’
      • ‘Then it's over to flashy dance floors and fast pulsating music that becomes all the more stirring after quaffing a few mugs of chilled beer or a few pegs of booze.’
      • ‘She experienced dizziness, peripheral oedema, and pulsating headache and stopped the treatment.’
      • ‘Let the sun-downer do its work as the place throbs with pulsating music.’
      • ‘I was about to make an attempt to get up, as it was 9: 53, and I actually wanted to try to make myself useful, despite the burning sensation pulsating through my body.’
      • ‘A 14,000-watt pulsating audio system and eye-catching lighting added magic to the electric atmosphere inside the auditorium.’
      • ‘The scenes oscillate between shady strip clubs, with excessively loud pulsating electronic beats, to what looks like Albanian countryside, where wild dogs roam and nothing decipherable happens.’
      • ‘The song, with its lurching vocals, cranky guitars and pulsating rhythm, got me pretty intrigued.’
      palpitate, pulse, throb, vibrate, pump, undulate, surge, heave, rise and fall, ebb and flow
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2usually as adjective pulsating Be very exciting.
      ‘victory in a pulsating semifinal’
      • ‘There was also Art and Drama Workshops and of course a Sports Day while the last day the Local Fundrums group put in a brilliant pulsating performance which went down really well with everyone.’
      • ‘From the age-old cupolas and minarets, vibrant markets to skyscraping buildings and pulsating nightlife, Cairo has it all.’
      • ‘The skill level wasn't too high but it was an exciting, pulsating and nerve tingling contest.’
      • ‘It's also about pulsating moments and rapturous crowds.’
      • ‘But as his avid followers, and all those who witnessed Saturday's pulsating show will testify, on stage, that is anything but the case.’


Late 17th century (earlier ( Middle English) as pulsation): from Latin pulsat- ‘throbbed, pulsed’, from the verb pulsare, frequentative of pellere ‘to drive, beat’.