\ ˈwāv How to pronounce wave (audio) \
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

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
\ ˈwāv How to pronounce Wave (audio) \

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 How to pronounce Wave (audio) \ adjective
wavelessly adverb
wavelike \ ˈwāv-​ˌlīk How to pronounce Wave (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for wave

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun (1)

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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Count down the last moments of 2020 with views over the towering skyline and iconic harbor of Hong Kong — one of the first countries in the world to wave goodbye to this long year — all from the safety of home. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "Hong Kong Will Host a Virtual New Year’s Eve Celebration to Ring in 2021 — Here’s How to Tune In," 28 Dec. 2020 Visitors can line the roads east of the intersection all the way to Angel Parkway to wave to him and cheer him on before his big night. Brandi Addison, Dallas News, "Santa Claus will bring Christmas cheer to Allen next weekend," 9 Dec. 2020 Organizers said about 60 children from nearly 30 Aurora area families were expected to attend the event, which included a variety of giveaways as well as the chance to wave to Santa as cars made their way through the procession. David Sharos, chicagotribune.com, "Aurora event offers some Christmas cheer for hearing impaired children and their families," 12 Dec. 2020 Although permits for Saturday estimate crowds in excess of 15,000, officials expect significantly fewer people to show than the thousands who rallied that day in November, when the president made an appearance to wave to his fans. Washington Post, "Pro-Trump demonstrators gather Saturday in Washington," 10 Dec. 2020 Barbara Sanders and her late husband, Harry, used to wave to the conductors in the freight trains that carried coal along the old CSX Georgetown Branch between Bethesda and Silver Spring. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland’s Purple Line has uncertain future after contractor quits, claiming $800M in overruns," 19 Nov. 2020 Children will be able to wave hello to Smokey the Bear at the Department of Agriculture station, and pick up a Junior Ranger badge and paper ranger hat at the Department of Interior station. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Melania Trump announces White House Halloween with face masks required for all over age 2," 23 Oct. 2020 Parents and kids stood on the sidewalk or roadside to wave. John Benson, cleveland, "Olmsted Township holds virtual tree lighting and Santa drive-thru event," 2 Dec. 2020 As the car pulled away, Goresh saw John wave goodbye to him. Kenneth Womack, Smithsonian Magazine, "What Happened on John Lennon’s Last Day," 30 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The lawsuits represent just the leading edge of an even bigger wave that’s expected next year, says Gerald Maatman Jr., a partner a Seyfarth partner. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "COVID-19 sparks more than 1,000 workplace-related lawsuits in 2020 as employees complain about safety, wages," 6 Jan. 2021 Amon has been set up nicely to ride the wave of 5G, a big strength for the company, as the technology goes mainstream. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Kicking off the new year with a screen cleanse," 5 Jan. 2021 The number of people hospitalized is higher in upstate regions that weren’t hit as hard as New York City during the initial wave of the pandemic this spring. Jimmy Vielkind, WSJ, "Highly Contagious Covid-19 Strain Has Been Found in New York State, Gov. Cuomo Says," 4 Jan. 2021 Because of the limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, there is some debate over whether the initial wave of doses should be given out in a one- or two-shot regimen. Anissa Gardizy, BostonGlobe.com, "Five things you need to know about the vaccine rollout in Mass.," 4 Jan. 2021 The 2020 wave of coronavirus-era celebrity divorces strikes again. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, "Zoë Kravitz Files for Divorce from Husband Karl Glusman," 3 Jan. 2021 The vote took place as the Police Department has confronted an unprecedented wave of violence -- with 82 people killed and at least 550 shot this year -- and scores of officer departures in recent months. Arkansas Online, "Minneapolis on edge after fatal police shots," 2 Jan. 2021 Over the past few years, President Donald Trump, the COVID-19 pandemic and the end of the big Mexican migration wave have combined to reduce immigration substantially. Noah Smith, Chron, "Rolling back immigration limits will juice the economy," 1 Jan. 2021 Haley has long been a popular and prominent figure in Republican politics since becoming South Carolina governor in 2011 as part of the Tea Party wave. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Nikki Haley's stops for Georgia senators caps slew of appearances to help GOP candidates," 1 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for wave

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wave

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wave.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wave. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for wave


How to pronounce Wave (audio)

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 How to pronounce wave (audio) \
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


\ ˈwāv How to pronounce wave (audio) \

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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