Definition of percolate
- allow the sunlight to percolate into our rooms
- —Norman Douglas
- the feud had been percolating for a long time
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.
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.
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.
: 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)
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Confusing Words—A Quiz