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rheostat (n.)

1843, "instrument for regulating or adjusting the resistance in a circuit," coined by English inventor Charles Wheatstone from Greek rheos "a flowing, stream" (see rheo-) + -stat "regulating device." Related: Rheostatic.

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Definitions of rheostat from WordNet

rheostat (n.)
resistor for regulating current;
Synonyms: variable resistor
From wordnet.princeton.edu