Wave

The ninth wave. A notion prevails that the waves keep increasing in regular series till the maximum arrives, and then the series begins again. No doubt when two waves coalesce they form a large one, but this does not occur at fixed intervals. The most common theory is that the tenth wave is the largest, but Tennyson says the ninth.

And then the two
Dropt to the cove, and watch'd the great sea fall,
Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,
Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame.

Tennyson: Idylls of the King.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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