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A Word A Day — undulate

September 13, 2012

Word of the Day

  • undulate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \UN-juh-layt\


: to form or move in waves : fluctuate
: to rise and fall in volume, pitch, or cadence
: to present a wavy appearance

From the window of our bed-and-breakfast, we had a gorgeous view of the green hills undulating into the distance.

“Seeded with drought-tolerant California native plants, the 1.5-acre surface gently undulates, mimicking the surrounding hillsides.” — From an article by Paul Sisson in the North County Times (Escondido, California), July 26, 2012


“Undulate” and “inundate” are word cousins, sharing “unda,” the Latin word for “wave,” as their common ancestor. No surprise there. But would you have guessed that “abound,” “surround,” and “redound” are also “unda” offspring? The connection between “unda” and these words is easier to see when you learn that at some point in their early histories each of them essentially had the meaning of “to overflow”—a meaning that “inundate” still carries, along with its “overwhelm” sense.

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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