bow wave

[bou]
noun
1.
the wave generated on either side of a vessel's bow by its forward movement through the water.
2.
a type of shock wave formed in front of a body moving at supersonic speed.

Origin:
1875–80

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To bow wave
Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

bow wave

progressive disturbance propagated through a fluid such as water or air as the result of displacement by the foremost point of an object moving through it at a speed greater than the speed of a wave moving across the water. Viewed from above, the crest of the bow wave of a moving ship is V-shaped; the angle of the V is determined by the relative speeds of the ship and of the propagation of waves in the water.In three-dimensional space-for example, when describing the wave produced by a plane flying at supersonic speed-the bow wave is conical in shape. In this case an observer on the ground experiences a sonic boom when the bow wave passes. See also wave motion.

Learn more about bow wave with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
What's interesting is that the trajectory of the smaller ball follows the bow
  wave created by the larger ball.
Now it is a roiling brown, and the cargo boats throw up a huge bow wave as they
  inch upriver.
Often groups of dolphins will come to a boat and ride the bow wave for long
  distances.
Another concern is the bow wave from a high speed train.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature