AskDefine | Define nutate

Dictionary Definition

nutate v : rock, sway, or nod; usually involuntarily

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. To rock or sway involuntarily.

Extensive Definition

Verb meaning to rock, sway, or nod; usually involuntarily

In Engineering

In engineering, a nutating motion is a motion similar to a swashplate. A swashplate contains pistons or follower rods, however, which many nutating devices do not have. The motion is similar to the motions of coin or a tire wobbling on the ground after being dropped with the flat side down.
The nutating motion is widely employed in flowmeters and pumps. The displacement of volume for one revolution is first determined. The speed of the device in revolutions per unit time is measured. In the case of flowmeters, the product of the rotational speed and the displacement per revolution is then taken to find the flow rate.

In Popular Culture

This term was used by MIT physicist Peter Fisher on the television show Late Night with Conan O'Brien on February 8, 2008. Fisher used the term to describe the motion of a spinning ring as it began to slow down and wobble.

In Astronomy

See Nutation.
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