con·​flu·​ent | \ ˈkän-ˌflü-ənt How to pronounce confluent (audio) , kən-ˈflü- \

Definition of confluent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: marked by or exhibiting confluence: such as
a : flowing or coming together confluent streams/rivers You can hear the sound from the beach at a distance, before you see the people. It is that most extraordinary noise, half-shout, half-song, made by confluent, simultaneously raised human voices, explaining things to each other.— Lewis Thomas He fought the swaying, jiggling motion, which was mixed with the warm confluent smells of rubber floor mat and petroleum combustion …— John Updike
b medical
(1) of lesions or skin eruptions : having run or grown together and so no longer discrete The lesions begin as 1 to 3 mm macules that gradually become confluent assuming a reticulated lacelike pattern.— Pearl E. Grimes
(2) : characterized by lesions or skin eruptions that have run or grown together On physical examination, patient A developed confluent urticaria that initially appeared on the thorax …— Thomas B. Casale et al.
c cell biology, of a cell culture : covering the culture substrate completely or nearly completely As the epithelial cell cultures become more confluent, they take on a cobblestone like appearance as the cells pack together.— Yvonne A. Reid When a confluent culture of 3T3 cells is wounded, new growth occurs at the wound margins.— Graham A. Dunn et al.



Definition of confluent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a confluent stream broadly : tributary

Synonyms & Antonyms for confluent

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of confluent in a Sentence

Noun several confluents slowly winding their way to the main river
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Those journeys were confluent with growing upheaval at home; the civil rights movement, racial conflict, and growing protests against the Vietnam War had thrust the country into a fractious moment., 17 June 2021 Turrell studied perceptual psychology as well as art, which for him seems confluent., 27 May 2021 The graphics were visual testament to the passage of Black Americans through the trauma of displacement and bondage into the massive and confluent upheavals of the modern world. Globe Staff,, 25 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Scholars have proposed different culprits, including malignant confluent smallpox whose symptoms include not only the headache, spots, and sores but also the yellowing of the skin. National Geographic, 19 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'confluent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of confluent


circa 1525, in the meaning defined above


1849, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for confluent


Middle English, from Latin confluent-, confluens, present participle of confluere to flow together, from com- + fluere to flow — more at fluid

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The first known use of confluent was circa 1525

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Cite this Entry

“Confluent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for confluent


con·​flu·​ent | \ ˈkän-ˌflü-ənt, kən-ˈ How to pronounce confluent (audio) \

Medical Definition of confluent

1 : flowing or coming together also : run together confluent pustules
2 : characterized by confluent lesions confluent smallpox — compare discrete


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