Radiation emitted from a source and received by an observer that are in relative motion to each other appears to be of a lower or higher frequency than if there were no relative motion between source and observer. If the relative motion between source and receiver causes motion toward each other, the frequency is shifted upward (sometimes called blue shifted). If the source and receiver are moving away from each other the frequency is shifted downward (sometimes termed red shifted).
1871, in reference to Christian Doppler (1803-53), Austrian scientist, who in 1842 explained the effect of relative motion on waves (originally to explain color changes in binary stars); proved by musicians performing on a moving train. Doppler shift is the change of frequency resulting from the Doppler effect.