Meaning of WAVE in English


I. wave 1 S3 W2 /weɪv/ BrE AmE noun

1 . SEA [countable] a line of raised water that moves across the surface of the sea:

Dee watched the waves breaking on the shore.

The ship tipped over, and finally vanished beneath the waves.

⇨ ↑ tidal wave

2 . INCREASE [countable usually singular] a sudden increase in a particular type of behaviour, activity, or feeling:

There was a wave of public protest.

3 . PEOPLE AND THINGS [countable] a sudden increase in the number of people or things arriving at the same time

wave of

a new wave of immigrants

They faced wave after wave of fresh troops.

4 . LIGHT AND SOUND [countable] the form in which some types of energy such as light and sound travel

sound/light/radio wave ⇨ ↑ long wave , ↑ medium wave , ↑ short wave

5 . SIGNAL [countable usually singular] a movement in which you raise your arm and move your hand from side to side:

He dismissed her with a wave of the hand.

6 . FEELING/ACTIVITY [countable] a feeling or activity that happens again and again in a series:

The pain swept over him in waves.

Wave after wave of aircraft passed overhead.

7 . HAIR [countable usually plural] a loose curl in your hair

8 . make waves informal to cause problems, especially when you should not:

With so many jobs already cut, he didn’t want to make waves.

9 . new wave a new style of music, art, film etc that is very different and unusual:

new wave music

new wave of

the new wave of Black feminist theorists

10 . CROWD [countable usually singular] American English an occasion when many people who are watching an event stand up, move their arms up and down, and sit down again one after another in a continuous movement that looks like a wave moving on the sea SYN Mexican wave British English

11 . the waves literary the sea

⇨ ↑ airwaves , ↑ shock wave

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ waves break (=fall onto the land or a boat)

We could hear the waves breaking on the shore.

▪ waves crash (=fall noisily)

Huge waves crashed down on us.

▪ waves lap (=hit something gently)

the sound of waves lapping against the boat

▪ waves pound (=hit something hard)

The waves pounded the rocks.

▪ sink/vanish beneath the waves

The ship sank beneath the waves.


▪ a great wave (=a very large wave)

The storm sent great waves crashing into the cliffs.

▪ a tidal wave (=a very large ocean wave that flows over the land and destroys things)

The winds and a tidal wave killed 45 people.

▪ the ocean waves (=the sea)

They spent a week on the ocean waves on a cruise ship.

■ wave + NOUN

▪ wave energy/power (=electricity from the movement of waves)

Wave power involves using the movement of the seas to generate electricity.

■ phrases

▪ the crest of a wave (=the top of the wave where it begins to fall)

Surfers rode on the crest of a wave.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ phrases

▪ a wave of violence/attacks/bombings

The incident triggered a wave of violence.

▪ a wave of panic/relief/sympathy

A wave of relief washed over Harry.

▪ a wave of nausea/dizziness/tiredness

Another wave of nausea hit him.

■ NOUN + wave

▪ a crime wave (=a sudden increase in crime)

The city is experiencing a crime wave.

▪ a heat wave (=a period of unusually hot weather)

California is in the middle of a heat wave.

■ verbs

▪ a wave hits somebody/something

He was hit by a wave of nausea every time he tried to stand up.

▪ a wave engulfs somebody/something (=it affects someone or something very strongly)

The city was engulfed by a fresh wave of violence.

▪ a wave sweeps/washes over somebody (=someone suddenly experiences a feeling or emotion)

A sudden wave of joy swept over her.

■ adjectives

▪ a great wave of something

A great wave of affection for him engulfed her.

▪ a new/fresh wave of something

A fresh wave of fighting erupted in the region yesterday.

• • •


▪ the sea especially British English the large area of salty water that covers much of the Earth’s surface:

She lives by the sea.


The sea was very rough.

▪ the ocean especially American English the large area of salty water that covers much of the Earth’s surface:

a house by the ocean


The restaurant had a sweeping view of the ocean.

▪ waters a large area of water – used about an area of water that belongs to a particular country, or when describing what the water is like:

boats fishing in Canadian waters


British territorial waters


the calm waters of the harbour


dangerous waters


choppy waters (=with a lot of waves)

▪ bay an area of sea that is partly enclosed by a curve in the land:

I swam across the bay.


the Bay of Biscay

▪ gulf a very large area of sea partly enclosed by land:

the Gulf of Mexico


oil from the Gulf (=the area of water near Iran, Saudi Arabia etc)

▪ tide the regular rising and falling of the level of the sea:

Is the tide going out or coming in ?


High tide (=when the sea is at its highest level) is at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.


low tide (=when the sea is at its lowest level)


The rocks are visible at low tide.

▪ wave a line of raised water that moves across the surface of the sea:

The waves were crashing against the rocks.

II. wave 2 S3 W3 BrE AmE verb

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: wafian 'to wave with the hands' ]

1 . HAND [intransitive and transitive] to raise your arm and move your hand from side to side in order to make someone notice you

wave to/at

She turned to wave to the approaching soldiers.

Enid waved at us and we waved back.

wave (somebody) goodbye (=say goodbye to someone by waving to them)

The nurses came out to wave Grandad goodbye.

2 . MOVE [intransitive and transitive] if you wave something, or if it waves, it moves from side to side:

The starter waved a green flag to indicate that the race would begin.

a tree waving in the breeze

He waved a hand in the air to attract her attention.

wave something under/at etc somebody/something

Trudie waved a $50 bill under his nose.

wave something around/about

The stranger spoke rapidly, waving his arms around.

3 . SIGNAL [transitive always + adverb/preposition] to show someone which way to go by waving your hand in that direction

wave somebody through/on/away etc

The border guards waved us through.

Peter waved them back to their seats.

4 . wave something goodbye/wave goodbye to something informal to be forced to accept that something you want will not happen:

If you’re not careful, you can wave goodbye to any pay rise this year.

5 . wave a magic wand to make a bad situation better, even though this is impossible:

I can’t wave a magic wand and change what happened.

6 . HAIR [intransitive and transitive] if hair waves, or if it is waved, it forms loose curls

wave something ↔ aside phrasal verb

to ignore someone’s opinion or ideas because you do not think they are important:

He waved her protests aside.

wave somebody/something ↔ down phrasal verb

to signal to the driver of a car to stop by waving at them:

People in passing cars tried waving him down.

wave somebody off phrasal verb

to wave goodbye to someone as they leave:

Are you coming to the station to wave me off?

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.