per·​co·​late | \ ˈpər-kə-ˌlāt How to pronounce percolate (audio) , nonstandard -kyə- How to pronounce percolate (audio) \
percolated; percolating

Definition of percolate

transitive verb

1a : to cause (a solvent) to pass through a permeable substance (such as a powdered drug) especially for extracting a soluble constituent
b : to prepare (coffee) in a percolator
2 : to be diffused through : penetrate

intransitive verb

1 : to ooze or trickle through a permeable substance : seep
2a : to become percolated
b : to become lively or effervescent
3 : to spread gradually allow the sunlight to percolate into our rooms— Norman Douglas
4 : simmer sense 2a the feud had been percolating for a long time

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Other Words from percolate

percolation \ ˌpər-​kə-​ˈlā-​shən How to pronounce percolate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for percolate


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Percolate comes from a Latin verb meaning "to put through a sieve". Something that percolates filters through something else, just as small particles pass through a sieve. Water is drawn downward through the soil, and this percolation usually cleans the water. A slow rain is ideal for percolating into the soil, since in a violent rainstorm most of it quickly runs off. For this reason, drip irrigation is the most effective and water-conserving form of irrigation. Percolation isn't always a physical process; awareness of an issue may percolate slowly into the minds of the public, just as Spanish words may gradually percolate into English, often starting in the Southwest.

Examples of percolate in a Sentence

Sunlight percolated down through the trees. Rumors percolated throughout the town. There is nothing like percolating coffee over an open campfire. Coffee was percolating on the stove.
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Recent Examples on the Web That allows learnings from one store to percolate across an entire chain, driving excellence for the whole organization. Fabrice Haiat, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 The law still faces a long road ahead, with potential injunctions from lower courts as Democrats' lawsuits percolate through the legal system. Tyler Olson, Fox News, 7 Sep. 2021 Especially in summer, thunderstorms percolate in midafternoon as temperatures rise, triggering a domino effect of delays and cancellations at airports. Washington Post, 22 July 2021 As schools and universities were called back in session before kids could even get the vaccine, worries started to percolate. Liz Elting, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 Other non-specific calls for violence continue to percolate on platforms that harbor conspiracy theories about election fraud, the reinstatement of former President Donald Trump and anticipated COVID-19 restrictions. Ella Lee, USA TODAY, 18 Aug. 2021 There isn't much ground for the water to percolate since the area is mostly concrete. Nour Rahal, Detroit Free Press, 1 July 2021 Only time will show whether slight, strategic changes in marketing tone may percolate down to tangible changes in beauty standards. Kang-chun Cheng, Quartz, 11 Aug. 2021 Add an extra year’s wait for the Tokyo Olympics because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the expectations Biles faced as a potential six-time gold medalist here, and a toxic brew began to percolate. Los Angeles Times, 28 July 2021

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

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First Known Use of percolate

1626, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for percolate

Latin percolatus, past participle of percolare, from per- through + colare to sieve — more at per-, colander

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Time Traveler for percolate

Time Traveler

The first known use of percolate was in 1626

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Dictionary Entries Near percolate



percolating filter

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Statistics for percolate

Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Percolate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for percolate



English Language Learners Definition of percolate

: to pass slowly through something that has many small holes in it
: to spread slowly
: to make (coffee) in a special pot (called a percolator)


per·​co·​late | \ ˈpər-kə-ˌlāt How to pronounce percolate (audio) \
percolated; percolating

Kids Definition of percolate

1 : to trickle or cause to trickle through something porous : ooze Water percolated through sand.
2 : to prepare (coffee) by passing hot water through ground coffee beans again and again

Other Words from percolate

percolation \ ˌpər-​kə-​ˈlā-​shən \ noun
percolator \ -​ˌlā-​tər \ noun


per·​co·​late | \ ˈpər-kə-ˌlāt How to pronounce percolate (audio) \
percolated; percolating

Medical Definition of percolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause (a solvent) to pass through a permeable substance (as a powdered drug) especially for extracting a soluble constituent
2 : to be diffused through

intransitive verb

1 : to ooze or trickle through a permeable substance
2 : to become percolated


per·​co·​late | \ -ˌlāt How to pronounce percolate (audio) , -lət How to pronounce percolate (audio) \

Medical Definition of percolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a product of percolation

More from Merriam-Webster on percolate

Nglish: Translation of percolate for Spanish Speakers


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