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primary wave

noun
  1. Seismology. P wave.
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Origin of primary wave

First recorded in 1915–20
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

primary wave in Science

primary wave

  1. A type of seismic body wave in which rock particles vibrate parallel to the direction of wave travel. Primary waves are alternatingly compressional and extensional, and cause the rocks they pass through to change in volume. These waves are the fastest traveling seismic waves and can travel through solids, liquids, and gases. Also called P wave See Note at earthquake.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.