noun Mechanics, Geology.
a wave along the surface of a solid, elastic body, especially along the surface of the earth.
THINK YOU’VE GOT A HANDLE ON THIS US STATE NICKNAME QUIZ?
Question 1 of 8
Mississippi’s nickname comes from the magnificent trees that grow there. What is it?
Origin of Rayleigh wave
First recorded in 1915–20; named after J. W. S. Rayleigh
Words nearby Rayleigh wave
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
Scientific definitions for Rayleigh wave
A type of seismic surface wave that moves with a rolling motion that consists of a combination of particle motion perpendicular and parallel to the main direction of wave propagation. The amplitude of this motion decreases with depth. Like primary waves, Rayleigh waves are alternatingly compressional and extensional (they cause changes in the volume of the rocks they pass through). Rayleigh waves travel slower than Love waves.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.