Scientists Say: Acoustic

This word describes something involving hearing or sound


An acoustic guitar gets its name from a word associated with sound. When a guitar’s string is strummed, it makes the air vibrate, producing sound. The study of those sounds is a branch of physics called acoustics.


Acoustic (adjective, “Ah-KOOS-tik”)

This is a word that is used to describe properties of sound or hearing. The way sounds behave in a room are the room’s acoustic properties. An organism’s range of hearing is its acoustic range. When the word is the plural “acoustics,” it becomes a noun and can have one of two meanings. It is an area of physics that studies the properties of sound. It is also shorthand for the sound quality of a room or space. Specialists in this field are known as acousticians.

In a sentence

Spiders don’t have eardrums, but they still have an acoustic range — they can sense sound vibrations.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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