wave theory

  1. Also called undulatory theory. Physics. the theory that light is transmitted as a wave, similar to oscillations in magnetic and electric fields.: Compare corpuscular theory.

  2. Historical Linguistics. a theory that accounts for shared features among languages or dialects by identifying these features as innovations that spread from their points of origin to the speech of contiguous areas.

Origin of wave theory

First recorded in 1825–35

Words Nearby wave theory

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

How to use wave theory in a sentence

  • The interference of light is one of the phenomena for which the wave theory offers the only satisfactory explanation.

    Physics | Willis Eugene Tower
  • In optics, he developed the wave theory, and his name is associated with the simple dispersion formula.

  • Likewise, he first proposed the wave theory of light; although it was Huygens who established it on its present foundation.

  • Huyghens sought to account for this phenomenon on the principles of the wave theory, and he succeeded in doing so.

    Six Lectures on Light | John Tyndall
  • As stated at the time, this discovery ushered in the darkest hour in the fortunes of the wave theory.

    Six Lectures on Light | John Tyndall

British Dictionary definitions for wave theory

wave theory

  1. the theory proposed by Huygens that light is transmitted by waves

  2. any theory that light or other radiation is transmitted as waves: See electromagnetic wave

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