S-wave(redirected from S waves)
A seismic wave that travels relatively quickly through the earth, causing the rocks it passes through to change shape, and the particles of the rocks to vibrate at right angles to the direction of wave propagation. S-waves can travel through solids but not through liquids or gases. Also called shear wave.
[S(econdary) wave, since it is the second type of wave, after the faster P-waves, to be detected by a seismograph after a seismic event.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.