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shock wave

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noun
  1. a region of abrupt change of pressure and density moving as a wave front at or above the velocity of sound, caused by an intense explosion or supersonic flow over a body.
  2. a repercussion from a startling event or upheaval; series of aftereffects: shock waves from the recent collapse of one of the nation's largest banks.

Origin of shock wave

First recorded in 1945–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shock wave

Historical Examples

  • The sound and the shock-wave never reached them; the Goblin outran them.

    The Cosmic Computer

    Henry Beam Piper

  • Then the sound and the shock-wave of the first blast reached them.

    Day of the Moron

    Henry Beam Piper

  • The shock-wave caused by the impact tapped on the yacht's side-planking a few seconds later.

    Creatures of the Abyss

    Murray Leinster

  • Then, after the Sunday midday meal, Tom returned to his laboratory to work on ideas for a shock-wave deflector.

  • The young inventor sketched out the sort of shock-wave deflector which he had in mind.


British Dictionary definitions for shock wave

shock wave

noun
  1. a region across which there is a rapid pressure, temperature, and density rise, usually caused by a body moving supersonically in a gas or by a detonationOften shortened to: shock See also sonic boom, shock tube
  2. a feeling of shock, horror, surprise, etc that affects many people as it spreads through a community
  3. the effect created on a queue of moving cars in the lane of a motorway when one car brakes suddenly and the cars behind have to brake as well, causing cars to slow down, sometimes for miles behind the first braking car
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

shock wave in Science

shock wave

  1. A large-amplitude wave formed by the sudden compression of the medium through which the wave moves. Shock waves can be caused by explosions or by objects moving through a fluid at a speed greater than the speed of sound.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.