\ˈwāv \
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 : open water

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 \

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

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Other Words from wave

Noun (1)

waveless \ ˈwāv-​ləs \ adjective
wavelessly adverb
wavelike \ -​ˌlīk \ adjective

Synonyms for wave

Synonyms: Verb

beckon, flag, gesture, motion, signal

Synonyms: Noun (1)

billow, surge, swell

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


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Children waving British and U.S. flags cheered loudly. Sylvia Hui, Fox News, "Melania Trump dutifully tries her hand at lawn bowls," 13 July 2018 Schuster, wearing virtual reality glasses and waving the Tilt Brush in the air, wrote personal dedications for each winner - the autographs could be seen on screen. Judy Cantor-navas, Billboard, "Chilean Firm Ushers In Virtual Record Signings, With Help of Google's Tilt Brush," 12 July 2018 The teammates appear to be in relatively good health and spirits, waving and flashing two-finger victory signs at the camera. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Thai Soccer Players Wave in First Hospital Footage Since Dramatic Cave Rescue," 11 July 2018 One of my favorite maneuvers is when the fountains go through a waving motion, reminiscent of windshield wipers. Dewayne Bevil, OrlandoSentinel.com, "First look: 'Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration'," 10 July 2018 The actress then said goodbye, adding a hand waving emoji. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, "Ariel Winter 'Has Taken a Break from Twitter,' Says Rep: 'She Needs a Moment to Breathe'," 6 July 2018 Instead, there were two players waving for the ball on the opposite side of the perimeter as the ballhandler was forced into another turnover. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Ugly sequence sums up what is wrong with LaVar Ball's JBA league," 26 June 2018 One of the kids recognized Thurmond from his school and waved. Ben Austen, The New Republic, "How one American city chose to tackle crime, combat racism, and reckon with the legacy of police brutality," 21 June 2018 Such a change would allow a simple majority of all shareholders to wave the deal through. Ben Dummett, WSJ, "Comcast Raises Sky Offer After Fox Sweetened Its Bid," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And then there’s Ex American, a minimalist but vibrant blend of new-wave, techno and pop. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit music: Grayling album release, J. Walker & the Crossguards, Chris Canas," 12 July 2018 The 40-year-old mom of six posted an Instagram selfie with her mini-mes, all posing with matching long, blonde beach waves, similar matte makeup, long lashes and their signature glossy pouts. Colleen Kratofil, PEOPLE.com, "Seeing Triple! Kim Zolciak-Biermann and Two Daughters Are Nearly Indistinguishable in New Selfie," 11 July 2018 Edwin Black, author of IBM and the Holocaust, says the current wave of dissidents is atypical for the tech industry. Nitasha Tiku, WIRED, "Why Tech Worker Dissent Is Going Viral," 29 June 2018 Or at least it was supposed to be. Hirving Lozano's first-half goal stood up, and Mexico defended against waves of German pressure, defeating the defending World Cup champion 1-0 in front of a pro-El Tri crowd at Moscow's Luzhiki Stadium on Sunday. Avi Creditor, SI.com, "WATCH: Chucky Lozano Gives Mexico World Cup Win Over Germany," 17 June 2018 Surrounded by the lush tropical forest with soothing sounds of crashing waves, the Presidential Suite is ideal as a gathering space. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "The Best Room At...Andaz Costa Rica," 14 June 2018 How has something so profane, so intoxicated and so clothing-resistant continued to ride its unique wave in a world miles less accepting of this kind of sandy fun run amok? Bryce Miller, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Cover your ears: Over-the-Line evolves, but the raunchy team names remain," 14 July 2018 The tribe says there were two waves of flooding caused by recent monsoon storms in northern Arizona. Dawn Gilbertson, azcentral, "Flash flood closes Havasupai falls," 12 July 2018 All of these moments were, for me, the wave that ended up crashing into this moment of realizing that Gilead is not a safe place for a child. Jennifer Vineyard, New York Times, "‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Yvonne Strahovski on the Harrowing Finale and Serena’s Murky Future," 11 July 2018

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.

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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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Learn More about wave

Dictionary Entries near wave






wave analyzer

wave antenna

Statistics for wave

Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wave

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

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More Definitions for wave



Financial Definition of wave

What It Is

In investing, a wave is a pattern found in stock prices, technology, consumer trends or other areas. In technical analysis, the term often refers to Elliot Wave Theory.

How It Works

Elliot Wave Theory is a method for predicting stock prices by identifying certain trading patterns. Specifically, the theory states that markets move up in a series of five waves but move down in a series of three waves. The theory looks to investor psychology for key information.

Generally speaking, though, a "wave" is a term used to describe a new way of doing things. For example, Congress could pass new legislation to encourage "crowdfunding," which in turn could drive a new wave of startups who get their capital from online, fund-raising websites. The change could forever change the pathways through which capital reaches companies, and as a result more people may engage in the startup economy. This in turn could create markets for other crowdfunding websites, due diligence consulting firms, startup legal services and branding work.

Why It Matters

It's easy to see how investing ahead of waves could be extremely profitable. New waves can spur significant economic growth in certain sectors, and learning how to identify or predict waves accurately can lead to very good investment decisions.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of wave

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move your hand or something held in your hand usually in a repeated motion in order to signal or greet someone

: to float, shake, or move back and forth because of wind

: to move (something) back and forth



English Language Learners Definition of wave (Entry 2 of 2)

: an area of moving water that is raised above the main surface of an ocean, a lake, etc.

: something that has the shape or movement of a wave

: a usually repeated movement of your hand or of something held in your hand especially as a signal or greeting


\ˈwāv \
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

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\ˈwāv \

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

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Comments on wave

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


playful or foolish behavior

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