\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

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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


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

Presley often covered the song in the 1970s and performed it with relish, waving his arms over his head and dancing throughout the song. Kristin M. Hall, The Seattle Times, "Country bluesman, hit songwriter Tony Joe White dies," 26 Oct. 2018 The man began walking toward police while waving his arms and shaking his head, the report said. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man carrying gun in St. Francis turned out to be armed with unloaded air rifle," 6 July 2018 Hartford Senior Legion Baseball’s Israel Crespo clung to the dugout railing and waved his hands in the air, and sang along to the tune often associated with baseball. Shawn Mcfarland, courant.com, "Hartford, Glastonbury Legion Teams Meet At Dunkin Donuts Park," 3 July 2018 Several hundred people marched outside the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Saturday , waving signs and shouting slogans protesting the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Wayne K. Roustan, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Thousands stage protests, marches across South Florida," 30 June 2018 With that, Vicuna and his 8-year-old son, Angel, headed to Eastern Avenue where most of the protesters had lined up to chant, wave their signs and pump their fists toward passing traffic in a show of solidarity. Jonathan M. Pitts, baltimoresun.com, "Hundreds rally in Patterson Park to protest Trump immigration policies," 29 June 2018 Pence spoke just hours after Kim Hak-song, Kim Dong-chul and Kim Sang-duk, who is also known as Tony Kim, waved and smiled as they were greeted by Trump at a military base near Washington, D.C., early Thursday. Adam Edelman /, NBC News, "Pence lauds release of three Americans by N. Korea, predicts 'breakthrough' with Kim regime," 10 May 2018 Marching in from three sides of the city to converge on its Catholic cathedral, the demonstrators sang, waved anti-government signs and sometimes danced a little to the small marching bands that accompanied many of the participating groups. Glenn Garvin, miamiherald, "Tens of thousands gather for anti-government demonstration in Nicaragua | Miami Herald," 28 Apr. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Additionally, Intel says that the modem will support both millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum as well as lower-band parts of the spectrum. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Intel’s new 5G modem might power Apple’s first 5G iPhones," 12 Nov. 2018 Real talk: sometimes the process of achieving bouncy, barrel waves with a curling iron is, well, a process. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "The Viral Water Bottle Challenge Is Instagram's New Favorite Beauty Trend," 11 Nov. 2018 Caltech even held a training workshop on how to deal with gravitational-wave data. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Danish physicists claim to cast doubt on detection of gravitational waves," 1 Nov. 2018 With quantum tunneling, the wave nature of protons allows them to overlap ever so slightly, like ripples merging on the surface of a pond. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 2018 That evening, Harry and Meghan also fit in a balcony wave. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Looks Positively Angelic as She Arrives in Fiji Wearing a Pearl White Dress," 23 Oct. 2018 That makes the Golden State center stage for what Democrats are hoping is a major anti-Trump wave in November. Gregg Re, Fox News, "California's key primaries: Trump-backed John Cox outpaces Villaraigosa for governor, Feinstein takes top spot in Senate contest," 2 Oct. 2018 It’s hard to imagine the third-wave coffee scene in Australia—and throughout the rest of the world—without St. Ali. Krista Simmons, Condé Nast Traveler, "13 Best Things to Do in Melbourne," 26 Sep. 2018 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

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

15 Nov 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

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by force of circumstances

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