[ weyv ]
See synonyms for wave on Thesaurus.com
  1. a disturbance on the surface of a liquid body, as the sea or a lake, in the form of a moving ridge or swell.

  2. any surging or progressing movement or part resembling a wave of the sea: a wave of the pulse.

  1. a swell, surge, or rush, as of feeling or of a certain condition: a wave of disgust sweeping over a person; a wave of cholera throughout the country.

  2. a widespread feeling, opinion, tendency, etc.: a wave of anti-intellectualism; the new wave of installment buying.

  3. a mass movement, as of troops, settlers, or migrating birds.

  4. an outward curve, or one of a series of such curves, in a surface or line; undulation.

  5. an act or instance of waving.

  6. a fluttering sign or signal made with the hand, a flag, etc.: a farewell wave.

  7. natural waviness of the hair, or a special treatment to impart waviness: to have a wave in one's hair; to get a shampoo and a wave.

  8. a period or spell of unusually hot or cold weather.

  9. Physics. a progressive disturbance propagated from point to point in a medium or space without progress or advance by the points themselves, as in the transmission of sound or light.

  10. Literary.

    • a body of water.

    • the sea.

  11. (at sports events, especially baseball games) a momentary standing and sitting back down by spectators in a sequential, lateral way to create, en masse, a wavelike effect visually.

verb (used without object),waved, wav·ing.
  1. to move freely and gently back and forth or up and down, as by the action of air currents, sea swells, etc.: The flags were waving in the wind.

  2. to curve alternately in opposite directions; have an undulating form: The road waved along the valley.

  1. to bend or sway up and down or to and fro, as branches or plants in the wind.

  2. to be moved, especially alternately in opposite directions: The woman's handkerchief waved in encouragement.

  3. to give a signal by fluttering or flapping something: She waved to me with her hand.

verb (used with object),waved, wav·ing.
  1. to cause to flutter or have a waving motion in: A night wind waves the tattered banners.

  2. to cause to bend or sway up and down or to and fro: The storm waved the heavy branches of the elm.

  1. to give an undulating form to; cause to curve up and down or in and out.

  2. to give a wavy appearance or pattern to, as silk.

  3. to impart a wave to (the hair).

  4. to move, especially alternately in opposite directions: to wave the hand.

  5. to signal to by waving a flag or the like; direct by a waving movement: to wave a train to a halt; to wave traffic around an obstacle.

  6. to signify or express by a waving movement: to wave a last goodbye.

Idioms about wave

  1. make waves, Informal. to disturb the status quo; cause trouble, as by questioning or resisting the accepted rules, procedures, etc.: The best way to stay out of trouble at the office is not to make waves.

Origin of wave

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English waven (verb), Old English wafian “to wave the hands”; cognate with Middle High German waben;cf. waver1

synonym study For wave

1. Wave, ripple, breaker, surf refer to a ridge or swell on the surface of water. Wave is the general word: waves in a high wind. A ripple is the smallest kind of wave, such as is caused by a stone thrown into a pool: ripples in a brook. A breaker is a wave breaking, or about to break, upon the shore or upon rocks: the roar of breakers. Surf is the collective name for breakers: Heavy surf makes bathing dangerous.

Other words for wave

Other words from wave

  • waveless, adjective
  • wave·less·ly, adverb
  • wav·ing·ly, adverb
  • wavelike, adjective
  • outwave, verb (used with object), out·waved, out·wav·ing.
  • un·der·wave, noun
  • un·der·wav·ing, noun
  • un·wav·ing, adjective

Words that may be confused with wave

Words Nearby wave

Other definitions for Wave (2 of 2)



[ weyv ]

  1. a member of the Waves.

Origin of Wave

First recorded in 1942; see origin at Waves

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use wave in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for wave


/ (weɪv) /

  1. to move or cause to move freely to and fro: the banner waved in the wind

  2. (intr) to move the hand to and fro as a greeting

  1. to signal or signify by or as if by waving something

  2. (tr) to direct to move by or as if by waving something: he waved me on

  3. to form or be formed into curves, undulations, etc

  4. (tr) to give a wavy or watered appearance to (silk, etc)

  5. (tr) to set waves in (the hair)

  1. one of a sequence of ridges or undulations that moves across the surface of a body of a liquid, esp the sea: created by the wind or a moving object and gravity

  2. any undulation on or at the edge of a surface reminiscent of such a wave: a wave across the field of corn

  1. the waves the sea

  2. anything that suggests the movement of a wave, as by a sudden rise: a crime wave

  3. a widespread movement that advances in a body: a wave of settlers swept into the country

  4. the act or an instance of waving

  5. physics an oscillation propagated through a medium or space such that energy is periodically interchanged between two kinds of disturbance. For example, an oscillating electric field generates a magnetic oscillation and vice versa, hence an electromagnetic wave is produced. Similarly a wave on a liquid comprises vertical and horizontal displacements: See also antinode, longitudinal wave, node, standing wave, transverse wave

  6. physics a graphical representation of a wave obtained by plotting the magnitude of the disturbance against time at a particular point in the medium or space; waveform

  7. a prolonged spell of some weather condition: a heat wave

  8. an undulating curve or series of curves or loose curls in the hair

  9. an undulating pattern or finish on a fabric

  10. short for wave moth

  11. make waves to cause trouble; disturb the status quo

  12. ride the wave US slang to enjoy a period of success and good fortune

Origin of wave

Old English wafian (vb); related to Old High German weban to weave, Old Norse vafra; see waver; C16 (n) changed from earlier wāwe, probably from Old English wǣg motion; compare wag 1

Derived forms of wave

  • waveless, adjective
  • wavelike, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for wave


[ wāv ]

  1. A disturbance, oscillation, or vibration, either of a medium and moving through that medium (such as water and sound waves), or of some quantity with different values at different points in space, moving through space (such as electromagnetic waves or a quantum mechanical wave described by the wave function). See also longitudinal wave transverse wave wave function. See Note at refraction.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for wave


In physics, any regularly recurring event, such as surf coming in toward a beach, that can be thought of as a disturbance moving through a medium. Waves are characterized by wavelength, frequency, and the speed at which they move. Waves are found in many forms.

Notes for wave

The motion of a wave and the motion of the medium on which the wave moves are not the same: ocean waves, for example, move toward the beach, but the water itself merely moves up and down. Sound waves are spread by alternating compression and expansion of air.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with wave


see make waves.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.