wave·​length | \ ˈwāv-ˌleŋ(k)th \

Definition of wavelength

1 : the distance in the line of advance of a wave from any one point to the next point of corresponding phase
2 : a particular course or line of thought especially as related to mutual understanding two people on different wavelengths

Examples of wavelength in a Sentence

Light and sound have different wavelengths.

Recent Examples on the Web

Photo: Qualcomm Short wavelengths generally mean more data over shorter distances. David Pierce, WSJ, "From Wi-Fi to Bluetooth to 5G, All Your Wireless Is About to Change," 27 Jan. 2019 Light traveling to us from distant objects is Doppler shifted to longer wavelengths. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Pulsars could convert dark matter into something we could see," 20 Dec. 2018 Similar in design to a telescope, the spectroscope worked like a super-powered prism, dispersing light into measurable wavelengths. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Nuggets from the passing parade," 17 Aug. 2018 The red light district Red light is relatively rare in both marine and terrestrial creatures, as these longer wavelengths can be too dim for even human eyes. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Why Bioluminescence Evolved to Be Red Light, and Blue," 26 June 2018 But this research shows that, in fact, the pigment does participate in energy conversion, and lets the organism pull energy from longer wavelengths than ever observed. Sarah Lewin, Space.com, "Weird Low-Light Bacteria Could Potentially Thrive on Mars," 15 June 2018 Terahertz waves — a form of light with wavelengths longer than infrared but shorter than microwaves — pass effortlessly through the pigments but bounce off the boundaries between different layers of paint. Kenneth Chang, New York Times, "In Picasso’s Blue Period, Scanners Find Secrets He Painted Over," 20 Feb. 2018 There's also some scientific research indicating that due to the short wavelengths of cooler colors and how our cones perceive them, greens and blues are the most relaxing to our eyes. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "14 Calming Paint Colors That Will Change the Way You Live," 9 Jan. 2019 In response to the initial detection, many telescopes observed the initial debris in a variety of wavelengths. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Neutron-star merger blasted a jet of material through the debris," 5 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wavelength.' 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 wavelength

1850, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near wavelength

wave goodbye


wave height



wave line


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Last Updated

13 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for wavelength

The first known use of wavelength was in 1850

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More Definitions for wavelength



English Language Learners Definition of wavelength

technical : the distance from one wave of energy to another as it is traveling from one point to another point
informal used especially in the phrases on the same wavelength and on a different wavelength to say that people share or do not share a way of thinking


wave·​length | \ ˈwāv-ˌleŋth \

Kids Definition of wavelength

: the distance in the line of advance of a wave from any one point to the next similar point


wave·​length | \ -ˌleŋ(k)th \

Medical Definition of wavelength

: the distance in the line of advance of a wave from any one point to the next point of corresponding phase symbol λ

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More from Merriam-Webster on wavelength

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wavelength

Spanish Central: Translation of wavelength

Nglish: Translation of wavelength for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wavelength

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a servile follower or underling

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