\ ˈwāv How to pronounce wave (audio) \
waved; waving

Definition of wave

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to motion with the hands or with something held in them in signal or salute
2 : to float, play, or shake in an air current : move loosely to and fro : flutter flags waving in the breeze
3 of water : to move in waves : heave
4 : to become moved or brandished to and fro signs waved in the crowd
5 : to move before the wind with a wavelike motion field of waving grain
6 : to follow a curving line or take a wavy form : undulate

transitive verb

1 : to swing (something) back and forth or up and down
2 : to impart a curving or undulating shape to waved her hair
3a : to motion to (someone) to go in an indicated direction or to stop : signal waved down a passing car
b : to gesture with (the hand or an object) in greeting or farewell or in homage
c : to dismiss or put out of mind : disregard usually used with aside or off
d : to convey by waving waved farewell
4 : brandish, flourish waved a pistol menacingly


noun (1)

Definition of wave (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a moving ridge or swell on the surface of a liquid (as of the sea)
b chiefly literary : water, sea … this our island in the wave— Charles Dickens The buccaneer on the wave might relinquish his calling and become … a man of probity and piety on land …— Nathaniel Hawthorne The sea was open to them, and they achieved their victories on the briny wave.The Book of Commerce by Sea and Land
2a : a shape or outline having successive curves
b : a waviness of the hair
c : an undulating line or streak or a pattern formed by such lines
3 : something that swells and dies away: such as
a : a surge of sensation or emotion a wave of anger swept over her
b : a movement sweeping large numbers in a common direction waves of protest
c : a peak or climax of activity a wave of buying
4 : a sweep of hand or arm or of some object held in the hand used as a signal or greeting
5 : a rolling or undulatory movement or one of a series of such movements passing along a surface or through the air
6 : a movement like that of an ocean wave: such as
a : a surging movement of a group a big new wave of women politicians
b : one of a succession of influxes of people migrating into a region
c(1) : a moving group of animals of one kind
(2) : a sudden rapid increase in a population
d : a line of attacking or advancing troops or airplanes
e : a display of people in a large crowd (as at a sports event) successively rising, lifting their arms overhead, and quickly sitting so as to form a swell moving through the crowd
7a : a disturbance or variation that transfers energy progressively from point to point in a medium and that may take the form of an elastic deformation or of a variation of pressure, electric or magnetic intensity, electric potential, or temperature
b : one complete cycle of such a disturbance
8 : a marked change in temperature : a period of hot or cold weather
9 : an undulating or jagged line constituting a graphic representation of an action


noun (2)
\ ˈwāv How to pronounce Wave (audio) \

Definition of Wave (Entry 3 of 3)

: a member of the women's component of the U.S. Navy formed during World War II and discontinued in the 1970s

Other Words from wave

Noun (1)

waveless \ ˈwāv-​ləs How to pronounce wave (audio) \ adjective
wavelessly adverb
wavelike \ ˈwāv-​ˌlīk How to pronounce wave (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for wave

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun (1)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for wave


swing, wave, flourish, brandish, thrash mean to wield or cause to move to and fro or up and down. swing implies regular or uniform movement. swing the rope back and forth wave usually implies smooth or continuous motion. waving the flag flourish suggests vigorous, ostentatious, graceful movement. flourished the winning lottery ticket brandish implies threatening or menacing motion. brandishing a knife thrash suggests vigorous, abrupt, violent movement. an infant thrashing his arms about

Examples of wave in a Sentence

Verb We waved to our friends through the window. She was waving in the direction of the bridge. Flags were waving in the breeze. The magician waved his magic wand. The leader of the parade waved a flag. It was so hot that we were all waving our hands in front of our faces to cool off. Noun (1) The waves crashed onto the rocks. She has a wave in her hair. Waves of warm air washed over us. We got a wave from the Queen. The rabbit disappeared with a wave of the magician's wand. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Technically, there's supposed to be a determination made that there's a national defense emergency in order to use it, but the president can also just wave that requirement. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2022 Whenever Ethiopia’s athletes rounded the turn at Hayward Field in Eugene, fans rose to their feet and began to wave the country’s flag, cheering them on. oregonlive, 16 July 2022 Donaldson, standing off third, tried to wave the ball fair and raised both arms in the manner of Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series. Ronald Blum, Hartford Courant, 16 June 2022 And shots of civilians climbing on Russian tanks to brazenly wave the Ukrainian flag. Washington Post, 28 Mar. 2022 New Yorkers will still be able to wave down yellow taxis in the street or order them through two taxi apps, Curb and Arro, which offer upfront pricing as with Uber rides. New York Times, 24 Mar. 2022 Here, Khraniteli makes inventive use of its low budget by having Gandalf wave a red flag that displays images of explosions and sparkles — magic, in its own way. Christian Holub, EW.com, 7 Apr. 2021 In videos of the incident shared to Twitter, Santana was surrounded by medical staffers on stage, but was able to wave to the crowd as he was carried out to the cheers of concertgoers. Rachel Desantis, PEOPLE.com, 6 July 2022 The star also reportedly paused the concert several times to wave security over to members of the crowd needing medical assistance due to the day's heat. Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 2 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The administration was late to place the orders, which resulted in shortages during the winter Omicron wave. Allysia Finley, WSJ, 1 Aug. 2022 Patel also said that young Latino patients and older Black residents were among the COVID-19 patients during the most recent wave. Los Angeles Times, 28 July 2022 During the Omicron wave this past winter, some health officials argued that the sheer number of cases was less important than how many of them led to severe illness, as reflected in hospitalizations and deaths. Emily Alpert Reyes, Anchorage Daily News, 17 July 2022 That would be infections in people who are vaccinated and boosted, as well as people who were infected during the last wave. Meredith Cohn, Baltimore Sun, 11 July 2022 Illness also seems to be less severe, with hospitalizations and deaths remaining somewhat steady since the omicron wave. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, 8 July 2022 Ultimately, the confusion around Paxlovid, a pill largely tested during the Delta wave, is part of a broader discussion about how best to treat patients as the virus evolves. Edward Chen, STAT, 8 July 2022 While more than nearly 100 occupied beds higher than what was previously thought to be the peak for this this surge, that number still falls far short of peaks reached during the delta wave and the first omicron wave. oregonlive, 6 July 2022 However, hospitalization rates during the Omicron wave in children 5 and older were worse than those seen during flu seasons. Alexander Tin, CBS News, 23 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of wave


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (1)

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1942, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wave


Middle English, from Old English wafian to wave with the hands; akin to Old English wæfan to clothe and perhaps to Old English wefan to weave

Noun (2)

Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service

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Time Traveler for wave

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The first known use of wave was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wave. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for wave


\ ˈwāv How to pronounce wave (audio) \
waved; waving

Kids Definition of wave

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move (as the hand) to and fro as a signal or in greeting
2 : to move (something) back and forth The Black Knight waved his lance weakly over our heads.— Jon Scieszka, Knights of the Kitchen Table
3 : to curve slightly Her hair waves naturally.
4 : to flutter with a rolling movement Flags waved in the wind.



Kids Definition of wave (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a moving ridge on the surface of water
2 : a waving motion a wave of the hand
3 : something that swells and dies away A wave of anger came over her.
4 : a rolling movement passing along a surface or through the air waves of grain
5 : a curving shape or series of curving shapes hair with waves
6 : a sudden increase in something a crime wave
7 : a motion that is somewhat like a wave in water and transfers energy from point to point sound waves


\ ˈwāv How to pronounce wave (audio) \

Medical Definition of wave

1a : a disturbance or variation that transfers energy progressively from point to point in a medium and that may take the form of an elastic deformation or of a variation of pressure, electrical or magnetic intensity, electrical potential, or temperature
b : one complete cycle of such a disturbance
2 : an undulating or jagged line constituting a graphic representation of an action an electroencephalographic wave

More from Merriam-Webster on wave

Nglish: Translation of wave for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wave for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wave


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