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Resonant frequency or resonance frequency???[edit]

It appears that there is no such thing as a resonant frequency:

I recommend that the various 'resonant frequency' terms in the article be replaced with 'resonance frequency'. Alfred Centauri 02:41, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

I don't.
"The frequency at which resonance occurs is called the resonant frequency." -- A Dictionary of Physics. Ed. Alan Isaacs. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.
"At the resonant frequency, ..." -- "resonance" entry, Britannica Online, 2005.
"at the resonance frequency" -- "resonance" entry, Newnes Dictionary of Electronics on xreferplus, 2005.
"The resonant frequency is the frequency at which ..." -- "resonance" entry, The New Penguin Dictionary of Science, on xreferplus, 2005.
"is said to be .. the resonant frequency" -- "resonance", Penguin Dictionary of Physics, 1982.
"resonant frequency" (headword) -- Chambers Science and Technology Dictionary, 1988.
"resonant frequency" (headword) -- OED2, with citations from 1925, 1934, 1964.
I think FV Hunt is being unnecessarily pedantic. Most authorities write "resonant", but a few write "resonance". Who cares? It's only a shorthand term for a real concept - it doesn't alter the concept itself. It reminds me of the famous pedant C.P. Scott, who complained that television would never catch on because it was a hybrid of Greek and Latin roots. Hunt has a point, and perhaps "resonance frequency" is more accurate than "resonant frequency", and if you agree with him then you can write the former, but it's not a good enough reason to go changing what others have written. --Heron 11:46, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
I agree that no one will be confused by the use of 'resonant frequency' instead of 'resonance frequency'. On the other hand, it is my opinion that the author(s) of an encyclopedic article should and would care about 'getting it right'. After all, you do agree that "Hunt has a point". While I question your description of the changing of the word resonant to resonance as a 'rewrite' of the article, I do see your point. Accordingly, I have added the link above to the 'External Links' section of the article. Alfred Centauri 13:14, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
Thank you for accommodating my objection, Alfred. I accept that the word "rewrite" was an exaggeration and, to be honest, I suppose it won't hurt if you do decide to change the phrase throughout the article. My only concern is that you don't start telling people that they are "wrong" for using "resonant", as I think the distinction is too pedantic to matter. --Heron 14:59, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
Agreed. I hope I haven't developed a reputation on Wikipedia for nitpicking for any reason other than to spur intelligent conversation. Alfred Centauri 16:47, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

Here is how i look at it: A frequency doesn't resonate any more than a curve resonantes, a circuit can resonante hence resonance frequencies and resonance curves and resonant circuits. :>) TomPoindexter 20:40, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

I feel when technical terms are defined in an encyclopedia for nontechnical people, it is especially important to respect actual usage. In technical fields, there is a high rate of neologisms. It would be nice if they were all grammatical, but it is more important for the meaning to be unambiguous. Readers not familiar with resonance could easily assume the two forms refer to different things. I googled "resonan frequency" to pick up both terms, eliminated ambiguous and repetitive hits, and counted. Out of the first 44 there were 27 occurrences of 'resonant frequency' and 17 of 'resonance frequency'. I'd suggest mentioning in the article that both terms are used. --Chetvorno 10:30, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

In terms of English grammar, an adjective (e.g. 'resonant') is required if the intention is to qualify a noun (i.e. to say what kind of 'frequency' you are talking about). G4oep (talk) 10:46, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

It's not just grammar, but usage; resonant is not an adjective appropriate to the noun "frequency" (frequencies aren't resonant). Thus, given the intent of Wikipedia (or any encyclopedia) being to educate the reader, using incorrect terminology does the reader a disservice. From a quick read, one might come away with the impression that resonance might be a characteristic of a frequency (rather than the other way around). Regardless, there doesn't seem to be any reason not to correct the wording. Paraphrasing the point of an editor above, reinforcing an incorrect usage (popular or not) is not helpful. However, it is a good idea to note that the incorrect usage is common. Jbusenitz (talk) 21:55, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Is it incorrect? What rule of grammar would I find in a grammar textbook that is being broken here? You say that frequencies aren't resonant (without justifying that claim), but frequencies aren't resonance either, and that latter statement is surely ungrammatical. SpinningSpark 16:23, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
Read again; "it's not just grammar". My point is that is what is communicated to the reader. There are sufficient references to support that above. Unless you are prepared to justify your claim that "frequencies aren't resonance either", I suggest we engage in a more constructive discourse. It was never implied that "frequencies are resonance"; the appropriate rewording would be "frequency of resonance". To address the other points above, having a career in an industry which uses this term quite a bit, I certainly haven't seen "resonant frequency" used more commonly than "resonance frequency" (in multiple companies). But at any rate, is there some unknown pillar of Wikipedia that espouses tyranny of the masses; i.e., promoting mistakes, if popular, as optimal wording for an article? Jbusenitz (talk) 02:58, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
Even if it is ungrammatical, "resonant frequency" is simply an idiom used in engineering. There are ungrammatical idioms used throughout English (how about "running for office"?). Is this really worth our time? Over on Talk:Electric current there was a similar endless, silly, pointless debate about the idiom current flow in a circuit. Editors argued that an electric current is a flow of charge, so current does not flow; others argued that it was widely used idiom and the redundancy improved understanding. After months of spilled ink, wasted man-hours, personal epithets, useless research, and citations of conflicting sources, no conclusion was reached; everybody just got tired. The irony was that a few changes of usage in a Wikipedia article were not going to make any difference anyway. There is no end to this type of debate. --ChetvornoTALK 05:50, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
It depends on the goals; inform the reader, or echo is perceived to be common, if incorrect. I have yet to see any justification for using the "-nt" version, idiomatic or not (is it really an idiom?). Again, to the apparent goal of an encyclopedia, it would seem that using the "-nce" version is most informative, and needn't be misleading if the "-nt" version is mentioned as well. I would not want to mislead someone into thinking that a frequency is somehow resonant. Jbusenitz (talk) 21:47, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
The ultimate justification for a specific term is usage. However, it is not too difficult to see why "resonant frequency" became the dominant form and was virtually the only usage for 100 years. In the context of physics, electrical engineering, acoustics, etc. the concept "resonant frequency" is most often applied to a particular piece of apparatus; a resonator, which is "resonant" at a particular frequency, such as a quartz crystal, LC circuit, dipole antenna, laser cavity, or loudspeaker cone, rather than the abstract process of "resonance". Thus "resonant frequency" is preferred, short for "frequency at which this device is resonant", rather than the less specific "resonance frequency" which means "frequency at which resonance (in the abstract) takes place" --ChetvornoTALK 23:36, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

There must be many examples in English of adjectives that on their face don't appear appropriate to the noun they modify; but they're hard to think up. Certainly "resonant frequency" here doesn't mean the frequency is resonant, but rather that the system is resonant at that frequency. I agree that "resonance frequency", meaning the frequency of a resonance, is more logical, but less idiomatic. Usage is shifting gradually toward that more logical form, but the traditional idiom still is in the majority. I could go either way, so I won't join the fight. Dicklyon (talk) 06:25, 10 February 2015 (UTC)

"Tendency" ?[edit]

The lead definition says that resonance is a 'tendency', but in numerous other places (even the second paragraph of the lead), resonance is said to 'occur', or the word 'phenomenon' is used. I would like to suggest that 'tendency' is inappropriate in the definition; if taken literally it seems to indicate that resonance is a property of a system, whereas in fact it is better to say that resonance is something that happens - it is a phenomenon which certain systems sometimes exhibit. I would like to suggest this as an alternative - paraphrased from "Physics for scientists and engineers - 4th edition, RA Serway, 1996, Saunders College Publishing, Philadelphia, etc, p 508: "A wide range of physical systems, including stretched strings, organ pipes, inductor-capacitor circuits, etc, are capable of oscillating in one or more modes of natural oscillation. If such a system is made to oscillate artificially by applying an appropriate stimulus, the amplitude of the resulting oscillatory response is greatest when the frequency of the stimulus is equal, or nearly equal to one of the natural frequencies of the system. These peaks of response at particular frequencies are called resonances, and the frequencies at which the maximum responses occurs are resonant frequencies". G4oep (talk) 10:27, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

I think this is splitting hairs. In my opinion the lead sentence: "...resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate with greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others." is excellent for a general encyclopedia. It defines resonance in simple words in a single declarative sentence for nontechnical readers, without resorting to the scientific buzzwords and multiple clauses of the Serway quote. I wouldn't mind introducing the idea that when a system is made to oscillate "artificially" the amplitude is maximum at the natural frequencies into the first paragraph, but I don't see any reason to change the lead sentence. --ChetvornoTALK 11:26, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Recent changes to lead[edit]

Recently the lead has been changed from

In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate with greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others.


In physics, resonance is a phenomenon that consists of a given system being driven by another vibrating system or by external forces to oscillate with greater amplitude at some preferential frequencies.

I think the new wording is not as good, for two reasons: (1) The term resonance is not applied only to driven systems, but is also used for free oscillations excited by initial conditions. (2) The wording gives the misleading impression that resonance is something imposed on one system by another, and fails to communicate the idea that the frequencies of greater oscillation amplitude are an inherent property of the oscillating system. I'm not saying it couldn't be improved, but I felt the original wording was a good, simple introduction which conveyed the idea well to general readers. Anyone else have an opinion? --ChetvornoTALK 19:34, 7 April 2015 (UTC)