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This paper proposes a new definition of the groupiness factor, GF, based on the envelope of the incident-wave time series. It is shown that an envelope-based GF has several important advantages over the SIWEH-based groupiness factor, including objective criteria for determining the accuracy of the envelope function and well-defined numerical limits. Using this new GF, the variability of incident wave groupiness in the field is examined both temporally, in unbroken waves at a fixed location, and spatially, in a cross-shore array through the surf zone. Contrary to previous studies using the SIWEH-based GF, results suggest that incident wave groupiness may not be an independent parameter in unbroken waves; through a wide range of spectral shapes, from swell to storm waves, the groupiness did not vary significantly. As expected, the groupiness decreases rapidly as waves break through the surf zone, although significant wave height variability persists even through a saturated surf zone. The source of this inner surf zone groupiness is not identified; however, this observation implies that models of long wave generation must account for nonsteady radiation stress gradients landward of some narrow zone near the mean breakpoint. ?? 1991.