Electricity. a radio wave shorter than that used in AM broadcasting, corresponding to frequencies of over 1600 kilohertz: used for long-distance reception or transmission.
Physics. a wave of electromagnetic radiation equal in length to, or shorter than, the wavelength of visible light.


of, relating to, or using shortwaves.

verb (used with or without object), short·waved, short·wav·ing.

to transmit by shortwaves.

Origin of shortwave

First recorded in 1900–05; short + wave Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for short-wave

Historical Examples of short-wave

  • There were taxi fleets to be equipped with short-wave radio.

    Creatures of the Abyss

    Murray Leinster

  • There was no movement ashore, though Nick had talked with the island on short-wave.

    Creatures of the Abyss

    Murray Leinster

  • Nick abandoned his job and went below to the short-wave set.

    Creatures of the Abyss

    Murray Leinster

  • It wasn't a scientific guy talking, just the short-wave operator.

    Creatures of the Abyss

    Murray Leinster

  • If they were keeping in touch with some of their own people by short-wave—of course they would speak English!

    Sign of the Green Arrow

    Roy J. (Roy Judson) Snell

Word Origin and History for short-wave

in reference to radio wavelength less than c.100 meters, 1907, from short (adj.) + wave (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

short-wave in Science



A radio wave with a frequency between 5.9 megahertz and 26.1 megahertz. Shortwaves broadcast from the Earth's surface are reflected by the upper atmosphere and can travel great distances around the planet. The shortwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum is used for amateur radio communications.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.