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

The problem came to be called the ultraviolet catastrophe, because the best theorem of the day predicted that objects heated to very high temperatures should spew infinite amounts of short-wavelength energy. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 2018 Alter the structure by changing the size of the tiles, and the crystals become sensitive to a different wavelength. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "“Rainbow” weevil could hold the secret to generating nature’s colors in the lab," 23 Sep. 2018 The duo seems to be on the same wavelength, as Haddish herself has honored her Eritrean heritage in the past on the red carpet. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Tiffany Haddish's Emmys Dress Paid Homage to Her Dad's Home Country," 17 Sep. 2018 The lights use tech from medical startup Vital Vio, which emit light at a wavelength that's not harmful to people but strong enough to stave off bacteria. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "This Ingenious Light Keeps Your Shower Germ and Mold-Free," 23 Aug. 2018 The rule is this: the circumference of the ball should be equal to a half integer number of wavelengths. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Spinning glass ball rejects light from one direction," 27 June 2018 Meanwhile, Howell carried out hyperspectral imaging, which uses hundreds of wavelengths of light. Henrik Knudsen, Smithsonian, "Buried by the Ash of Vesuvius, These Scrolls Are Being Read for the First Time in Millennia," 26 June 2018 The discovery heralds the next step in what scientists call multi-messenger astronomy, which probes the cosmos with telescopes working across different wavelengths and now with detectors of gravitational waves as well. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "Scientists Track Neutrinos Through Ice to Their Source in the Cosmos," 12 July 2018 The sap contains a class of chemicals that absorb specific wavelengths of light. Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "Giant, Scary Invasive Flower Can Cause Third-Degree Burns," 7 July 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

20 Nov 2018

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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

: the distance from one wave of energy to another as it is traveling from one point to another point

—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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