Humanities › English Glossary of Usage: Waive and Wave Commonly Confused Words Share Flipboard Email Print The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa (1820s) by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. (Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images) English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated March 31, 2018 The words waive and wave are homophones: they sound alike but have different meanings. Definitions The verb waive means to voluntarily defer, dispense with, or give up (a claim or right). The verb wave means to make a signal with the hand or to move freely back and forth. As a noun, wave refers to a ridge of water, a surge, or a rising trend. Examples Some agencies waive the collection fees on overdue student loans if they are paid in full.The retiring ballplayer waved to the crowd, looking somber in his final moment of glory."A silent security guard in a pasty-green uniform directed us with a careless wave to a flapping wooden door, from which a cold, abysmal breeze steadily blew."(Larry Frolick, Grand Centaur Station. McClelland & Stewart, 2004)"The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave."(Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Richard Rush, October 20, 1820)"The singing reached Joe vaguely; he felt happy and friendly toward all the people gathered here . . .. He liked them—he loved them. Great waves of good feeling flowed through him."(F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Crazy Sunday." American Mercury, 1932)"[T]he crossing guard stands and winks at me daily, as dependably as a blinking light. . . . She is waving cars and people forward in waves."(Rosellen Brown, "How to Win." The Massachusetts Review, 1975) Idiom Alerts Make WavesThe metaphorical expression to make waves means to create a disturbance or make trouble by doing or saying something new or different."Today, artists kicking around in political waters are more likely to make waves online using social media, and more likely to gain viral attention with an unexpected political quip at an opportune moment."(Joe Cascarelli, "Prophets of Rage Bring Their Anger to the Republican Convention." The New York Times, July 20, 2016)Wave (Someone or Something) Off or AwayThe phrasal verb to wave (someone or something) off or away means to dismiss or to make a signal with the hand indicating that someone or something should move away or stay at a distance.- China once could wave off complaints about its currency policies, arguing that it was a developing nation entitled to a bit of slack from its Western customers.- "Kipper waved off a security guard who seemed intent on holding them up, and accelerated past, paying no respect at all to his frantically waving clipboard."(John Birmingham, Without Warning. Del Ray, 2009) Practice (a) A record-breaking heat _____ tightened its grip on New York City on Tuesday.(b) "An enormous _____ crashed high on the beach, sweeping the castle into the sea."(Steven J. Simmons, Alice and Gretta. Charlesbridge, 1997)(c) According to policy experts, parties may choose to _____ legal rights when public money is involved.(d) The country has recently experienced another great _____ of immigration, the largest since the 1920s. Answers to Practice Exercises: Waive and Wave (a) A record-breaking heat wave tightened its grip on New York City on Tuesday.(b) "An enormous wave crashed high on the beach, sweeping the castle into the sea."(Steven J. Simmons, Alice and Gretta. Charlesbridge, 1997)(c) According to policy experts, parties may choose to waive legal rights when public money is involved.(d) The country has recently experienced another great wave of immigration, the largest since the 1920s.