\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

The insider explained that Borrallo was standing next to Jackson, making silly faces and waving to get the kids' attention. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why the Royal Family Is Laughing in Prince Charles' Birthday Portraits," 20 Nov. 2018 In the Duke and Duchess’s wake, Australian republicans will certainly be hastily waving them off, while trying not to admit that really, their movement is drowning. Juliet Rieden, Town & Country, "Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Tour of Australia Is Crucial to the Future of the Monarchy," 1 Nov. 2018 The light wave that exits the interferometer in this case will be bright. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Baby gravitational wave detector could find a home at the LHC," 3 Oct. 2018 Cameras captured Browning, who wasn’t scheduled to pitch that day in 1993, sitting on the edge of the rooftop in full uniform and waving toward his teammates in the dugout. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jared Hughes says sprinting from bullpen helped save his career," 7 July 2018 And Steuart Pittman, a Democratic candidate for Anne Arundel County executive, had a slew of supporters in matching blue shirts on a flatbed trailer, shaded by umbrellas and clapping and waving signs in unison. Pamela Wood, baltimoresun.com, "Annapolis Independence Day parade honors freedom of the press, especially for The Capital," 5 July 2018 Already, many wave off Bali in favor of less discovered paradises, like Lombok and Flores, where the lodging is finally worthy of the pristine surroundings. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "Finding the Bali You Came For," 16 Nov. 2018 To be honest, the global kum-bay-a feels disjointed in First Man, just as a chest-thumping, flag-waving ending would have been. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "“First Man” Is a Film About Failure," 4 Oct. 2018 So wave goodbye to daunting paint stores and say hello to Clare. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "This Millennial Paint Brand is Bringing Sexy Back To Home Design," 31 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Flash forward about six years later and Cale is at a family picnic on the beach when a wave unexpectedly pulls his two-year-old son out to sea. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "Pearl Harbor Still Holds a Few Mysteries," 7 Dec. 2018 On one hand, riding a political wave as a climate champion allows it to stay ahead of grumbling or desire for restructuring. David Roberts, Vox, "For the first time, a major US utility has committed to 100% clean energy," 5 Dec. 2018 Perhaps Louis is taking notes from his big sister (and royal wave pro), Princes Charlotte. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Says Prince Louis Is Practicing His Royal Wave," 5 Dec. 2018 And for now, while the chip will work with 5G, the spec is not native to the platform: Though the Qualcomm X50 modem will perform 5G millimeter wave and operate in the sub-6GHz spectrum bands, the X50 isn’t integrated into the Snapdragon 855. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Meet Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855: AI boosts, a smarter camera, mobile gaming—and bye-bye, JPEG," 5 Dec. 2018 The electrons are mostly inside of materials, and the wave nature of the electron doesn't extend very far. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Fractal structure produces fractal electrons with fractal energies," 2 Dec. 2018 Amandla Stenberg is making waves not only with her acting career but also her commitment to social justice and activism. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Amandla Stenberg Will Receive the Trevor Project's Youth Innovator Award," 20 Nov. 2018 Yesterday’s pink wave marks an historic moment for American women. Jill Filipovic, Marie Claire, "Women Won Big Last Night. Now It's Time to Get to Work," 7 Nov. 2018 In quantum mechanics, electrons and all other particles possess a dual nature; each is both a particle and a wave. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 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

13 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on wave

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wave

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wave

Spanish Central: Translation of wave

Nglish: Translation of wave for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wave for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wave

Comments on wave

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