\ 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

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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)

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Hundreds of people gathered along the airport road to wave to the pope and greet him. Peter Aitken, Fox News, "Pope begins first-ever papal visit to Iraq, urges Christians to help rebuild country," 5 Mar. 2021 After the video, Harden stood from the bench and left his team's huddle to wave to the crowd and pointed to his heart. Matt Young, Chron, "James Harden gets mixed reaction from fans in return to Houston," 3 Mar. 2021 Each of the three Maine Township high schools also held car parades on the day of graduation, giving seniors a chance to wave goodbye to their teachers. Jennifer Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Maine Township high schools hope for outdoor, on-campus graduations this year," 23 Feb. 2021 Trump’s impromptu motorcade outside of Walter Reed to wave to supporters on Saturday afternoon, despite still having coronavirus. Errin Haines, USA TODAY, "The pandemic is political — and women are angry at the president," 16 Oct. 2020 It’s about building and nurturing an online community so that members wave your flag and support your cause. Jia Wertz, Forbes, "Unlock These Social Selling Secrets To Boost Your Brand," 21 Mar. 2021 Instead, the Covid-19 patient smiled and tried to wave. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Monday, December 21," 21 Dec. 2020 But others have already started to wave this away: There are far worse transgressions than stealing signs. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers hiring A.J. Hinch should be a home run. But it isn't.," 30 Oct. 2020 This definitely does not happen if Fowler and General Partner Peter Seidler started to wave stop signs. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Padres send trade deadline message to Dodgers, MLB: We’re not going away," 31 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In recent years, however, that area has been hit hard by a wave of tech bros and others with a penchant for displacement. Fidel Martinez, Los Angeles Times, "Latinx Files: Why do we need Latinx heroes?," 1 Apr. 2021 Buffeted by a third wave of the pandemic, France has intensified its lockdown to include a month-long shutdown of schools. David Meyer, Fortune, "The U.S. business community lays into Georgia’s new voting law," 1 Apr. 2021 The letter rallies for the community which is under attack by a wave of legislation across the United States. Chris Gardner, Billboard, "Janelle Monae, Laverne Cox, Selena Gomez & More Sign Letter in Support of Transgender Women, Girls: 'We All Must Fight'," 31 Mar. 2021 Does that reduce the chances of Michigan's being hit by another wave of Covid-19 deaths? NBC News, "Covid cases spiking again in Michigan, but Gov. Whitmer making no move to impose new restrictions," 29 Mar. 2021 Manaus was devastated by a first wave of COVID cases beginning last March. Luke Taylor, Scientific American, "A City in Brazil’s Amazon Rain Forest Is a Stark Warning about COVID to the Rest of the World," 29 Mar. 2021 First responders, hospital personnel and even cemetery employees have told CNN they've been brought to their knees by this latest wave. Matt Rivers, CNN, "Signs of collapse across Brazil as Covid spirals out of control. Bolsonaro seems to have little response," 27 Mar. 2021 We got punched in the nose by a historic wave of NBA injuries. BostonGlobe.com, "With clear eyes, Toronto says goodbye to championship core — except Kyle Lowry," 27 Mar. 2021 Uighur anger boiled over in July 2009 when riots erupted in the regional capital of Urumqi, 197 died (mostly Han Chinese) and over 1,600 were wounded in revolts and attacks over several days, followed by a wave of arrests by the authorities. Karson Yiu, ABC News, "Calls for boycotts in China against Nike and H&M over Xinjiang cotton," 25 Mar. 2021

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

Time Traveler for wave

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wave

Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wave. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for wave



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 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

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