shock wave


Definition of shock wave 

1 : a compressional wave of high amplitude caused by a shock (as from an earthquake or explosion) to the medium through which the wave travels

2 : a violent often pulsating disturbance or reaction shock waves of rebellion

Examples of shock wave in a Sentence

The decision created a shock wave of criticism.

Recent Examples on the Web

On September 22, 2017, a shock wave of blue light flashed through the crystal-clear glacial ice a mile beneath the South Pole, heralding an entirely new way of looking at the universe. Eoin O'carroll, The Christian Science Monitor, "Neutrino demonstration heralds a new way of observing the cosmos," 12 July 2018 It is estimated to be larger than the Chelyabinsk meteor, which exploded in the skies over Russia in 2013, producing a large shock wave and many small meteorites. Kate Keller, Smithsonian, "An Asteroid Will Hurtle Past Earth Tonight in Close Flyby," 15 May 2018 The raid sent a shock wave through the community after DHS obtained access to their personal information, but Eros remains active. Rick Paulas, Longreads, "Sex Workers vs. The Internet," 15 June 2018 The blast sends a shock wave that would destroy nearly everyone and everything within this first ring. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "What To Do in a Nuclear Attack," 7 Feb. 2018 The crash sent shock waves through the small town of Humboldt, a farming and potash-mining community located east of Saskatoon, and through the North American hockey community. Kim Mackrael, WSJ, "Canadian Police Arrest Driver of Truck Involved in Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash," 6 July 2018 The Cousins move sent shock waves through the NBA, with players, fans, and pundits weighing in throughout the night. Sarah Todd,, "Sixers rookies Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet tune out free agency to focus on summer league," 3 July 2018 The policy has sent shock waves around the country, igniting outrage on the part of immigration advocates, human rights groups, and citizens across the political spectrum. Emily Stewart, Vox, "“Families Belong Together” rallies protesting family separation at the border, in tweets," 15 June 2018 The center typically receives reports of near Earth objects (NEOs) several times a night, but this one sent shock waves across the sky-scanning community. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "For Just 2nd Time Ever, Meteor Hunters Recover Chunks of Rock They Tracked From Space," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shock wave.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of shock wave

1907, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shock wave

Share shock wave

Dictionary Entries near shock wave

shock troops

shock tube

shock value

shock wave




Statistics for shock wave

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shock wave

The first known use of shock wave was in 1907

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shock wave

shock wave


English Language Learners Definition of shock wave

: a movement of extremely high air pressure that is caused by an explosion, an earthquake, etc.

: a usually negative response or reaction that many people have to a particular thing

More from Merriam-Webster on shock wave

See words that rhyme with shock wave Encyclopedia article about shock wave

Comments on shock wave

What made you want to look up shock wave? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!