make waves

make waves


  1. a disturbance on the surface of a liquid body, as the sea or a lake, in the form of a moving ridge or swell.
  2. any surging or progressing movement or part resembling a wave of the sea: a wave of the pulse.
  3. a swell, surge, or rush, as of feeling or of a certain condition: a wave of disgust sweeping over a person; a wave of cholera throughout the country.
  4. a widespread feeling, opinion, tendency, etc.: a wave of anti-intellectualism; the new wave of installment buying.
  5. a mass movement, as of troops, settlers, or migrating birds.
  6. an outward curve, or one of a series of such curves, in a surface or line; undulation.
  7. an act or instance of waving.
  8. a fluttering sign or signal made with the hand, a flag, etc.: a farewell wave.
  9. natural waviness of the hair, or a special treatment to impart waviness: to have a wave in one’s hair; to get a shampoo and a wave.
  10. a period or spell of unusually hot or cold weather.
  11. Physics. a progressive disturbance propagated from point to point in a medium or space without progress or advance by the points themselves, as in the transmission of sound or light.
  12. Literary.
    1. water.
    2. a body of water.
    3. the sea.
  13. (at sports events, especially baseball games) a momentary standing and sitting back down by spectators in a sequential, lateral way to create, en masse, a wavelike effect visually.

verb (used without object), waved, wav·ing.

  1. to move freely and gently back and forth or up and down, as by the action of air currents, sea swells, etc.: The flags were waving in the wind.
  2. to curve alternately in opposite directions; have an undulating form: The road waved along the valley.
  3. to bend or sway up and down or to and fro, as branches or plants in the wind.
  4. to be moved, especially alternately in opposite directions: The woman’s handkerchief waved in encouragement.
  5. to give a signal by fluttering or flapping something: She waved to me with her hand.

verb (used with object), waved, wav·ing.

  1. to cause to flutter or have a waving motion in: A night wind waves the tattered banners.
  2. to cause to bend or sway up and down or to and fro: The storm waved the heavy branches of the elm.
  3. to give an undulating form to; cause to curve up and down or in and out.
  4. to give a wavy appearance or pattern to, as silk.
  5. to impart a wave to (the hair).
  6. to move, especially alternately in opposite directions: to wave the hand.
  7. to signal to by waving a flag or the like; direct by a waving movement: to wave a train to a halt; to wave traffic around an obstacle.
  8. to signify or express by a waving movement: to wave a last goodbye.


  1. make waves, Informal. to disturb the status quo; cause trouble, as by questioning or resisting the accepted rules, procedures, etc.: The best way to stay out of trouble at the office is not to make waves.


  1. to move or cause to move freely to and frothe banner waved in the wind
  2. (intr) to move the hand to and fro as a greeting
  3. to signal or signify by or as if by waving something
  4. (tr) to direct to move by or as if by waving somethinghe waved me on
  5. to form or be formed into curves, undulations, etc
  6. (tr) to give a wavy or watered appearance to (silk, etc)
  7. (tr) to set waves in (the hair)


  1. one of a sequence of ridges or undulations that moves across the surface of a body of a liquid, esp the sea: created by the wind or a moving object and gravity
  2. any undulation on or at the edge of a surface reminiscent of such a wavea wave across the field of corn
  3. the waves the sea
  4. anything that suggests the movement of a wave, as by a sudden risea crime wave
  5. a widespread movement that advances in a bodya wave of settlers swept into the country
  6. the act or an instance of waving
  7. physics an oscillation propagated through a medium or space such that energy is periodically interchanged between two kinds of disturbance. For example, an oscillating electric field generates a magnetic oscillation and vice versa, hence an electromagnetic wave is produced. Similarly a wave on a liquid comprises vertical and horizontal displacementsSee also antinode, longitudinal wave, node, standing wave, transverse wave
  8. physics a graphical representation of a wave obtained by plotting the magnitude of the disturbance against time at a particular point in the medium or space; waveform
  9. a prolonged spell of some weather conditiona heat wave
  10. an undulating curve or series of curves or loose curls in the hair
  11. an undulating pattern or finish on a fabric
  12. short for wave moth
  13. make waves to cause trouble; disturb the status quo
  14. ride the wave US slang to enjoy a period of success and good fortune

v.“move back and forth,” Old English wafian “to wave with the hands” (related to wæfre “wavering, restless”), from Proto-Germanic *wab- (cf. Old Norse vafra “to hover about,” Middle High German waben “to wave, undulate”), possibly from PIE root *webh- “to move to and fro; to weave” (see weave (v.)). Meaning “to make a sign by a wave of the hand” is from 1510s. Related: Waved; waving. I was much further out than you thoughtAnd not waving but drowning.[Stevie Smith] n.“moving billow of water,” 1520s, from wave (v.), replacing Middle English waw, which is from Old English wagian “to move to and fro” (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German wag, Old Frisian weg, Old Norse vagr “water in motion, wave, billow,” Gothic wegs “tempest;” see wag (v.)). The usual Old English word for “moving billow of water” was . The “hand motion” meaning is recorded from 1680s; meaning “undulating line” is recorded from 1660s. Of people in masses, first recorded 1852; in physics, from 1832. Sense in heat wave is from 1843. The crowd stunt in stadiums is attested under this name from 1984, the thing itself said to have been done first Oct. 15, 1981, at the Yankees-A’s AL championship series game in the Oakland Coliseum; soon picked up and popularized at University of Washington. To make waves “cause trouble” is attested from 1962. n.

  1. A disturbance traveling through a medium by which energy is transferred from one particle of the medium to another without causing any permanent displacement of the medium itself.
  2. A graphic representation of the variation of such a disturbance with time.
  3. A single cycle that is representative of such a disturbance.

  1. A disturbance, oscillation, or vibration, either of a medium and moving through that medium (such as water and sound waves), or of some quantity with different values at different points in space, moving through space (such as electromagnetic waves or a quantum mechanical wave described by the wave function). See also longitudinal wave transverse wave wave function. See Note at refraction.

In physics, any regularly recurring event, such as surf coming in toward a beach, that can be thought of as a disturbance moving through a medium. Waves are characterized by wavelength, frequency, and the speed at which they move. Waves are found in many forms. Cause a disturbance or controversy, as in We’ve finally settled our differences, so please don’t make waves. This expression alludes to causing turbulence in the water. [Slang; mid-1900s] Also see rock the boat. see make waves.

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