wave

1 of 3

verb

waved; waving

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
3
a
: 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

wave

2 of 3

noun (1)

plural waves
1
a
: 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 waveCharles 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
2
a
: 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 or occurrence
a wave of spending
a second wave of infection
a crime wave
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
7
a
: 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
waveless adjective
wavelessly adverb
wavelike adjective

Wave

3 of 3

noun (2)

: a member of the women's component of the U.S. Navy formed during World War II and discontinued in the 1970s
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
Rather than simply waving our hands at an amorphous murkiness, the thinking was that this special type of relationship could be methodically categorized. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Nobody knows for sure why Burke was waving in his final moments. Ellen Wexler, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Feb. 2024 Columns of fans, many wearing red, had lined the two-mile parade route, celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs’ second consecutive Super Bowl victory and third in five seasons, waving at players, coaches and team officials riding past in open-top red buses. Colbi Edmonds, New York Times, 15 Feb. 2024 Kevin Moore of Kansas City waves a flag in front of Union Station before the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl LVIII victory parade on Wednesday in Kansas City. Kyle Feldscher, CNN, 14 Feb. 2024 Players, and Brittany Mahomes, took turns grabbing a Chiefs flag and waving it as a banner. The Kansas City Star, Kansas City Star, 14 Feb. 2024 Before the halftime show, surprise halftime show performer H.E.R. whizzed by in a golf cart, smiling wide and waved to the backup dancers who started to line up before taking the stage with Usher. Alex Ross, Peoplemag, 13 Feb. 2024 In May, fast food workers held a protest outside that Oakland Popeyes, at 7007 International Blvd., waving colorful flags and beating drums after two teen employees of the restaurant filed child labor complaints with state regulators. Ethan Baron, The Mercury News, 7 Feb. 2024 Bundled up in a hoodie and sweat pants for the 34 degree weather, Messi smiled and waved at fans who called out to him from a distance. Michelle Kaufman, Miami Herald, 6 Feb. 2024
Noun
By carefully analyzing these waves, ophthalmologists can detect any abnormalities in the structure and function of the retina, facilitating early detection and diagnosis of eye diseases. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 The actor has since made waves by playing the complicated and sinister Cal Jacobs on HBO’s Euphoria (2019–present). Chris Snellgrove, EW.com, 17 Feb. 2024 The move followed an intensification of Moscow’s attacks on the area, as Russia pummeled it with airstrikes and artillery and sent wave after wave of ground assaults by armored vehicles and soldiers. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 17 Feb. 2024 Editor’s picks That uncompromising sound and image were a profound influence on generations of politically outspoken rock artists, from the first wave of punk rock in the ’70s to Rage Against the Machine in the ’90s and beyond. Steve Appleford, Rolling Stone, 17 Feb. 2024 On a broader scale, the consolidation wave is healing the hangover from years of overspending by shale drillers who pursued output growth at the expense of investor returns. Kevin Crowley, Fortune, 17 Feb. 2024 Even if the case were to settle for much less, a victory by Mexico would provide a template for a wave of future lawsuits that could change the way the gun industry operates. Timothy D. Lytton, The Conversation, 16 Feb. 2024 The withdrawal comes after Moscow intensified its attacks on the area in recent weeks, pummeling it with airstrikes and artillery and sending wave after wave of ground assaults by armored vehicles and soldiers. Cnn Staff, CNN, 16 Feb. 2024 The first wave of atomic movies were sci-fi, a genre that, as film historian Foster Hirsch points out, didn’t even exist as a genre in America until the 1950s. Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times, 6 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wave.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near wave

Cite this Entry

“Wave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wave. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

wave

1 of 3 verb
waved; waving
1
: to float or shake in an air current : flutter
flags waving in the breeze
2
: to signal or salute with the hand or with something held in it
3
: brandish
waved a pistol and made threats
4
: to move before the wind with a wavelike motion
a field of waving grain
5
: to follow or cause to follow a curving line or take a wavy form
waved her hair

wave

2 of 3 noun
1
: a moving ridge on the surface of water
2
: a wavelike formation or shape
a wave in the hair
3
: the action or process of making wavy or curly
4
: a waving motion
a wave of the hand
5
: a steady flowing movement
a wave of color swept the speaker's face
6
: a sudden or rapid increase
a wave of buying
7
: a disturbance similar to a wave in water that transfers energy progressively from point to point
a light wave
8
: a period of hot or cold weather
wavelike adjective

Wave

3 of 3 noun
: a woman serving in the navy

Medical Definition

wave

noun
1
a
: 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!