What is a wave?

Oksana Vasilyeva
Oksana Vasilyeva
February 18, 2015
What is a wave?

The first stable association that we have with the word “wave” is water: river, sea, ocean with traveling waves. But the waves are not only on the water. The wave can be air or sound. There are light waves, there are radio waves. So what is the wave? Where did this word come from and to indicate what it is used for? Let's see.

This word originates from the pan-Slavic base "vyl" - the shaft. And related words derived from the same basis are, for example, “to bring down”, “wolf”. Old Russian "vlati" meant to throw, set in motion. Therefore, in its original meaning, the wave is that which moves, falls, or falls in motion. In this sense, the word and stuck as a term in physics.

Wave in physics

What is a wave in physics? According to the terminological dictionary, a wave in physics refers to any oscillatory motion or perturbation in an electromagnetic or material medium. The wave has physical characteristics: length, frequency and speed.It can be traveling, that is, to spread from the source of oscillation, and standing (not to spread).

Also, waves are transverse and longitudinal, depending on the ratio (perpendicular and parallel) of the direction of movement of the wave and oscillations. For example, what are sound waves are the vibrations of sound, the mechanical vibrations of molecules.

Waves have different intensities, spatial and temporal periodicity, polarizations, dispersion, and other common properties and characteristics. In more detail about one of the types of waves, we have already written in the article What is electromagnetic waves.

Other waves

Consider the other meanings of this word. What else is called waves?

  • A wave is a water crests, rising when the water surface is swaying: “It runs in waves on raised sails” (M. Yu. Lermontov).
  • A wave is a crowd moving towards, a mass, a mass: a wave of a people, people are waving a wave, a wave of indignation.
  • A wave is a sign of an uneven surface, an exfoliation: a wavy fabric, the canvas went in waves.
  • Wave - the outdated name of the roof, tiles.

The verb "worry", derived from the word "wave", also has two meanings.The first is to go in waves: the sea is worried. The second meaning is to worry, be nervous, lose peace of mind: worrying about health, people are worried. Has this word and many other derivatives: excitement, wavy, wave, etc.