1610s (intransitive) "move to and fro;" 1660s, "swing to and fro;" from Latin vibratus, past participle of vibrare "set in tremulous motion, move quickly to and fro, quiver, tremble, shake," from PIE *wib-ro-, from root *weip- "to turn, vacillate, tremble ecstatically, move quickly to and fro." Transitive sense "cause to vibrate" is from c. 1700. Related: Vibrated; vibrating.
Middle English wif, wyf, from Old English wif (neuter) "woman, female, lady," also, but not especially, "wife," from Proto-Germanic *wīfa- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian wif, Old Norse vif, Danish and Swedish viv, Middle Dutch, Dutch wijf, Old High German wib, German Weib), of uncertain origin and disputed etymology, not found in Gothic.
Apparently felt as inadequate in its basic sense, leading to the more distinctive formation wifman (source of woman). Dutch wijf now means, in slang, "girl, babe," having softened somewhat from earlier sense of "bitch." The Modern German cognate (Weib) also tends to be slighting or derogatory; Middle High German wip in early medieval times was "woman, female person," vrouwe (Frau) being retained for "woman of gentle birth, lady;" but from c. 1200 wip "took on a common, almost vulgar tone that restricted its usage in certain circles" and largely has been displaced by Frau.
The more usual Indo-European word is represented in English by queen/quean. Words for "woman" also double for "wife" in some languages. Some proposed PIE roots for wife include *weip- "to twist, turn, wrap," perhaps with sense of "veiled person" (see vibrate); and more recently *ghwibh-, a proposed root meaning "shame," also "pudenda," but the only examples of it would be the Germanic words and Tocharian (a lost IE language of central Asia) kwipe, kip "female pudenda."
The modern sense of "female spouse" began as a specialized sense in Old English; the general sense of "woman" is preserved in midwife, old wives' tale, etc. Middle English sense of "mistress of a household" survives in housewife; and the later restricted sense of "tradeswoman of humble rank" in fishwife. By 1883 as "passive partner in a homosexual couple." Wife-swapping is attested from 1954.
"emit, vivid flashes of light," 1705, from Latin coruscatus, past participle of coruscare "to vibrate, glitter," perhaps from PIE *(s)ker- (2) "leap, jump about" (compare scherzo), but de Vaan considers this "a long shot." Related: Coruscated; coruscating.
early 15c., quaveren, "to vibrate, tremble, have a tremulous motion," probably a frequentative of cwavien "to tremble, shake, be afraid" (early 13c.), which probably is related to Low German quabbeln "tremble," and possibly of imitative origin. Meaning "sing in trills or quavers, sing with a tremulous tone" is recorded by 1530s. Related: Quavered; quavering.
plural vibrissae, 1690s, "nose hair, stiff hair in the nostril," from Latin vibrissa, back-formation from vibrissare, from vibrare "to vibrate" (from PIE root *weip- "to turn, vacillate, tremble ecstatically"). In reference to the long whiskers of a cat, etc., from 1839.
1726, intransitive, "to vibrate, move backward and forward," as a pendulum does, a back-formation from oscillation, or else from Latin oscillatus, past participle of oscillare "to swing." Transitive sense of "cause to swing backward and forward" is by 1766. From 1917 in electronics, "cause oscillation in an electric current." Related: Oscillated; oscillating.
"a flash or gleam of light," as of the reflection of lightning on clouds or moonlight on the sea, late 15c. (Caxton, choruscacyon), from Late Latin coruscationem (nominative coruscatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin coruscare "to vibrate, glitter" (see coruscate).
1861 (adv.), 1870 (n.), "tremulous effect in music," from Italian vibrato, from Latin vibratus, past participle of vibrare "to vibrate" (from PIE root *weip- "to turn, vacillate, tremble ecstatically").
Strictly, the vibrato is distinct from the tremolo, in that the latter involves a perceptible variation in pitch; but in common usage the terms are made synonymous. [Century Dictionary]