Wave Phenomena: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Sadije Redzovic

Sadije has taught high school physics and physical science. She has a bachelor’s in physics and a master’s in biomedical engineering.

In this lesson, you will learn about the four basic behaviors, or phenomena, that can be observed when studying waves. These four behaviors are reflection, interference, refraction, and diffraction.


On a Sunday afternoon in September, you and your friends head to the stadium of your local NFL team to take in this week's big game. Mid-way through the game, the crowd becomes enthralled with the human wave—the classic stadium activity in which each person stays in the same location, but the overall motion or energy of the wave moves through the crowd.

This gets you thinking. What exactly is a wave? Also, what are the key characteristics of a wave? Let's investigate and answer these lingering questions together.

Ocean waves are a type of wave that are familiar to many individuals.

A wave can be thought of as a disturbance that carries energy. Waves are observed in numerous different settings: sound, light, water, etc. All waves have certain common features. This lesson will focus on basic wave phenomena. The phrase wave phenomena is just the physicist's way of saying wave behaviors. This article will cover the four basic behaviors that all waves exhibit. We will look at the definitions of these behaviors and we will also explore real world examples of each of these behaviors.

Four Types of Wave Phenomena

There are four phenomena, or behaviors, that can be observed when studying any type of wave. These four phenomena are reflection, refraction, diffraction, and interference. Each of these phenomena are caused by a wave's interactions with its surrounding environment.

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