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shock wave

noun
1.
a region of abrupt change of pressure and density moving as a wave front at or above the velocity of sound, caused by an intense explosion or supersonic flow over a body.
2.
a repercussion from a startling event or upheaval; series of aftereffects:
shock waves from the recent collapse of one of the nation's largest banks.
Origin
1945-1950
1945-50
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for shock wave
  • When the wind hits this field it creates a shock wave known as the bow shock.
  • Although, since a bubble burst will happen sooner or later, the shock wave will be felt worldwide.
  • As a hail of shrapnel pierces flesh and breaks bones, the shock wave tears lungs and crushes other internal organs.
  • At its base the blast's expanding shock wave, visible as a whitish ring, engulfs a fleet of unmanned naval vessels.
  • But the powerful shock wave of energy travels rapidly through the ocean as fast as a commercial jet.
  • But over the years the models have improved, and the shock wave scenario has fallen apart.
  • But the powerful shock wave of energy travels rapidly through the ocean, sometimes as fast as a commercial jet.
  • Where this magnetic field comes from and how it interacts with a shock wave is not known.
  • For example, when a runner hits the ground, a shock wave is transmitted through his body from his foot.
  • On the way, the muon gives off a shock wave of blue light.
British Dictionary definitions for shock wave

shock wave

noun
1.
a region across which there is a rapid pressure, temperature, and density rise, usually caused by a body moving supersonically in a gas or by a detonation Often shortened to shock See also sonic boom, shock tube
2.
a feeling of shock, horror, surprise, etc that affects many people as it spreads through a community
3.
the effect created on a queue of moving cars in the lane of a motorway when one car brakes suddenly and the cars behind have to brake as well, causing cars to slow down, sometimes for miles behind the first braking car
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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shock wave in Science
shock wave  
A large-amplitude wave formed by the sudden compression of the medium through which the wave moves. Shock waves can be caused by explosions or by objects moving through a fluid at a speed greater than the speed of sound.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for shock wave

strong pressure wave in any elastic medium such as air, water, or a solid substance, produced by supersonic aircraft, explosions, lightning, or other phenomena that create violent changes in pressure. Shock waves differ from sound waves in that the wave front, in which compression takes place, is a region of sudden and violent change in stress, density, and temperature. Because of this, shock waves propagate in a manner different from that of ordinary acoustic waves. In particular, shock waves travel faster than sound, and their speed increases as the amplitude is raised; but the intensity of a shock wave also decreases faster than does that of a sound wave, because some of the energy of the shock wave is expended to heat the medium in which it travels. The amplitude of a strong shock wave, as created in air by an explosion, decreases almost as the inverse square of the distance until the wave has become so weak that it obeys the laws of acoustic waves. Shock waves alter the mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of solids and, thus, can be used to study the equation of state (a relation between pressure, temperature, and volume) of any material.

Learn more about shock wave with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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