15 synonyms for "wave"

June 19, 2020 | Surfing
Wave: a word with many synonyms | Photo: Shutterstock

Every second of every day, there's a wave breaking somewhere in the world. Nevertheless, we seem to lack alternative words to describe this daily, large scale phenomenon.

Waves are poetry in motion. Actually, they're always on the go and ready to reach their ultimate obstacles.

The goal of an ocean wave is to travel and eventually morph with others to create powerful swells. Its essence never changes through time.

Waves are a mirror of life - they're only temporary, ephemeral, always mundane, and never eternal. They live while they move, and they die when they break or crash.

Interestingly, and despite its magical aura, the wave doesn't have many synonyms. Whenever we need to find an English word to replace it, there is never a long list available.

And any time you search for an expression that could be used interchangeably, alternatives are even less appealing.

So, what are the most common synonyms for the word "wave"?

We dove into the world of lexicography and linguistics and found two layers of equivalent meanings in the world's finest dictionaries.

1. Breaker

A breaker is a heavy or large sea wave that breaks or dashes into white foam on the shore.

2. Ripple

A ripple is a small wave or series of waves on the surface of water or other liquid created by a slight breeze or an object dropping into it.

3. Billow

A billow is a large ocean wave, a surge of the sea, or undulating mass of something, typically cloud, smoke, or steam.

4. Swell

A swell is a slow, regular undulating movement of the sea's surface in rolling waves that do not break.

5. Roller

A roller is a long, heavy, swelling wave that appears to roll and advance steadily towards the shore.

6. Surf

Surf is the swell of the sea or the mass or line of foam formed by waves breaking on a shallow or sloping seashore or reef.

7. Bombora

Bombora is an Australian word for a wave that forms over a submerged offshore reef or rock, which often breaks heavily and produces a dangerous stretch of broken water.

8. Boomer

A boomer is also an Australian term for a very large wave.

9. Comber

A comber is a long, curling ocean wave.

10. Surge

A surge, or tidal surge, is a large sea wave or a sudden, strong, wavelike volume of water. It's the rolling swell of the sea, a sudden powerful forward or upward movement, especially by a natural force such as the tide, and a strong, swelling, wavelike volume or body of something.

11. Kahuna

Kahuna is a Hawaiian word for a wise, preeminent man, priest or shaman, but can also describe a very large wave.

12. Undulation

Undulation is a wavelike motion or the smooth movement up and down or back and forth of waves.

13. Curl

A curl is a hollow arch of water formed when the crest of a breaking wave spills forward.

14. Tsunami

A tsunami is an unusually long and large, destructive ocean wave caused by an earthquake, undersea volcanic eruption, earth movement, or other disturbance.

15. Wavelet

A wavelet is a small wave or ripple that is observed on the surface of a liquid.

Other words have similar meanings, but can't quite be considered synonyms.

Among them are expressions like "froth," "flood," "rush," "stream," "tide," "torrent," "deluge," "flow," "whitecap," "riffle," "crest," "trough," "white horse," and "torrent."

By the way, do you know how to write surfing in multiple languages?

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