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con·​flu·​ent ˈkän-ˌflü-ənt How to pronounce confluent (audio)
: marked by or exhibiting confluence: such as
: 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
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
: 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.
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.


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: a confluent stream
broadly : tributary

Examples of confluent in a Sentence

Noun several confluents slowly winding their way to the main river
Recent Examples on the Web
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
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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'confluent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


circa 1525, in the meaning defined above


1849, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of confluent was circa 1525

Dictionary Entries Near confluent

Cite this Entry

“Confluent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: flowing or coming together
confluent rivers

Medical Definition


con·​flu·​ent ˈkän-ˌflü-ənt, kən-ˈ How to pronounce confluent (audio)
: flowing or coming together
also : run together
confluent pustules
: characterized by confluent lesions
confluent smallpox
compare discrete
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