# What does the velocity of a wave mean?

I know that the velocity of a wave is given by $v=\lambda f$ but what does this velocity represent in the physical sense. For instance, if I am told a car moves at a velocity of 5 $m/s$ I know that the car itself will cover 5 meters in displacement every second. What part of the wave is moving at velocity $v$?

• The car is just an example of the concept of velocity applied elsewhere where I can understand the meaning of velocity easily it has nothing to do with the wave in this case. – guest101 Nov 13 '12 at 15:50
• For more on phase velocity vs. group velocity, see e.g. Phys.SE posts here, here and here. – Qmechanic Nov 13 '12 at 17:55

• Ok, so are you saying this formula doesn't apply to standing waves? $v=\lambda f$ – guest101 Nov 13 '12 at 19:18
The phase velocity of a wave tells us how fast any given phase of the wave is moving e.g. the crest. If we examine some fixed position, then we can count how frequently a full wavelength passes this position as the wave moves with time. This leads us directly to $v = λf$.