- 1 [countable] a raised line of water that moves across the surface of the sea, ocean, etc. Huge waves were breaking on the shore. Surfers flocked to the beach to ride the waves. the gentle sound of waves lapping Children were playing in the waves. Seagulls bobbed on the waves. The wind made little waves on the pond. Wordfinderbeach, coast, harbour, pier, sandbank, sea, shoreline, surf, tide, wave see also tidal wave of activity/feeling
- 2 [countable] a sudden increase in a particular activity or feeling a wave of opposition/protest/violence, etc. a crime wave There has been a new wave of bombings since the peace talks broke down. A wave of fear swept over him. Guilt and horror flooded her in waves. Three hundred employees lost their jobs in the latest wave of redundancies. A wave of panic spread through the crowd. see also brainwave, heatwave large number
- 3 [countable] a large number of people or things suddenly moving or appearing somewhere Wave after wave of aircraft passed overhead. see also new wave movement of arm/hand/body
- 4 [countable] a movement of your arm and hand from side to side She declined the offer with a wave of her hand. With a wave and a shout he ran down the road to meet us. He gave us a wave as the bus drove off.
- 5the wave (North American English) (British English Mexican wave) [singular] a continuous movement that looks like a wave on the sea, made by a large group of people, especially people watching a sports game, when one person after another stands up, raises their arms, and then sits down again of heat/sound/light
- 6 [countable] the form that some types of energy such as heat, sound, light, etc. take as they move radio/sound/ultrasonic waves see also airwaves, long wave, medium wave, microwave, shock wave, short wave, sound wave See related entries: Energy and physical forces in hair
- 7[countable] if a person’s hair has a wave or waves, it is not straight but curls slightly see also permanent wave See related entries: Describing hair sea
- 8the waves [plural] (literary) the sea life on the waves (= life at sea) see also wavy Word Origin Old English wafian (verb), from the Germanic base of waver; the noun by alteration (influenced by the verb) of Middle English wawe ‘(sea) wave’.Extra examples A wave of relief washed over him as he saw that the children were safe. All you could hear was the lapping of the waves. He dismissed her thanks with a quick wave of the hand. He swam headlong into the oncoming wave. Hearing the tune again sent waves of longing through her. How do we catch the next great wave of innovation? I could hear the waves crash against the rocks. I feel a wave of panic flow through me. I returned his wave and started to walk towards him. Several villages have been destroyed by a huge tidal wave. She gave a dismissive wave of her hand. She is on the crest of a wave at the moment following her Olympic success. She loved surfing the giant waves of the sea. Sound waves bounce off objects in their path. Surfers flocked to the beach to ride the waves. The attack unleashed a wave of terror in the city. The news sent a wave of relief through the crowd. The waves hit the rocks with huge energy. There were seagulls bobbing on the waves. These boats aren’t strong enough to withstand rogue waves. This tendency has generated a new wave of company mergers. We watched the waves breaking on the shore. With the fall of the Bastille in 1789, a wave of euphoria swept Europe. a big wave of refugees children playing in the waves successive waves of immigrants swept along on a wave of critical acclaim the current wave of business scandals the first wave of immigration in the 1950s the gentle sound of waves lapping the sand the roar of ocean waves A wave of violence swept the country. Guilt and horror flooded her in waves. He gave a wave as the bus moved off. How are the police dealing with the latest crime wave? I experienced a huge wave of emotion when I saw her. She sent him away with a wave of her hand. Suddenly a wave of guilt washed over her. The pool has a wave machine.Idioms a situation in which somebody is very successful, happy, etc. They’ve been on the crest of the wave ever since their election victory. (informal) to be very active in a way that makes people notice you, and that may sometimes cause problems to enjoy or be supported by the particular situation or quality mentioned Schools are riding a wave of renewed public interest.