v. & n.
v. 1 a intr. (often foll. by to) move a hand etc. to and fro in greeting or as a signal (waved to me across the street). b tr. move (a hand etc.) in this way. 2 a intr. show a sinuous or sweeping motion as of a flag, tree, or a cornfield in the wind; flutter, undulate. b tr. impart a waving motion to. 3 tr. brandish (a sword etc.) as an encouragement to followers etc. 4 tr. tell or direct (a person) by waving (waved them away; waved them to follow). 5 tr. express (a greeting etc.) by waving (waved goodbye to them). 6 tr. give an undulating form to (hair, drawn lines, etc.); make wavy. 7 intr. (of hair etc.) have such a form; be wavy.
n. 1 a ridge of water between two depressions. 2 a long body of water curling into an arched form and breaking on the shore. 3 a thing compared to this, e.g. a body of persons in one of successive advancing groups. 4 a gesture of waving. 5 a the process of waving the hair. b an undulating form produced in the hair by waving. 6 a a temporary occurrence or increase of a condition, emotion, or influence (a wave of enthusiasm). b a specified period of widespread weather (heat wave). 7 Physics a the disturbance of the particles of a fluid medium to form ridges and troughs for the propagation or direction of motion, heat, light, sound, etc., without the advance of the particles. b a single curve in the course of this motion (see also standing wave, travelling wave (see TRAVEL)). 8 Electr. a similar variation of an electromagnetic field in the propagation of radiation through a medium or vacuum. 9 (in pl.; prec. by the) poet. the sea; water. make waves colloq. cause trouble. wave aside dismiss as intrusive or irrelevant. wave down wave to (a vehicle or its driver) as a signal to stop. wave equation a differential equation expressing the properties of motion in waves. wave-form Physics a curve showing the shape of a wave at a given time. wave-front Physics a surface containing points affected in the same way by a wave at a given time. wave function a function satisfying a wave equation and describing the properties of a wave. wave mechanics a method of analysis of the behaviour esp. of atomic phenomena with particles represented by wave equations (see quantum mechanics). wave number Physics the number of waves in a unit distance. wave theory hist. the theory that light is propagated through the ether by a wave-motion imparted to the ether by the molecular vibrations of the radiant body. waveless adj. wavelike adj. & adv.
[ OE wafian (v.) f. Gmc: (n.) also alt. of ME wawe, wage ]