per·​co·​late | \ˈpər-kə-ˌlāt, nonstandard -kyə- \
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 \ noun

Synonyms for percolate


bleed, exude, ooze, seep, strain, sweat, transude, weep

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Did You Know?

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

This one relates most immediately to a set of Medicaid cases that are now percolating in the lower courts. Abbe Gluck, Vox, "The fate of the ACA could turn on Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment," 23 July 2018 To see what’s percolating in Scandinavian design, walk just 50 yards down the street to The Frozen Fountain, a playful contemporary furniture and interiors boutique that brings together Dutch designers of the moment with exciting local talent. Vogue, "Style Meets Substance—The 7 Must-Visit Shopping Neighborhoods Around the Globe," 24 Oct. 2018 All the aromas percolating in a kitchen filled with countless languages aflutter, remains one of my most treasured memories from my first visit to the kitchen. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Read Meghan Markle's Emotional Foreword to 'Together: Our Community Cookbook'," 19 Sep. 2018 Labor unrest and women’s rights protests have also percolated in recent months. Asa Fitch, WSJ, "Rouhani Suffers Fresh Blow After Iran’s Parliament Ousts Economy Minister," 26 Aug. 2018 As in the northern Sinai, tensions have been percolating in the Western Desert since a military coup ousted the elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, two years after Egyptians rose up to topple President Hosni Mubarak. Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, "Militant threat emerges in Egyptian desert, opening new front in terrorism fight," 14 Mar. 2018 But the idea for Brava started percolating back in 2013, during the holidays. Lauren Goode, WIRED, "Brava Hopes to Heat Up the 'Smart Kitchen' With a $995 Oven," 10 July 2018 Soulquarius traced the last quarter century of R&B, and Rolling Loud stacked its bill with chart-topping rap acts and emcees percolating on SoundCloud, where young rappers are disrupting hip-hop tradition with DIY takes on the genre. Gerrick D. Kennedy,, "Smokin' Grooves, BET Experience offer varying ambitions for R&B, rap fans," 21 June 2018 The result was a loss that not only left the Sixers one game away from the offseason but a performance that will only further a lot of narratives that have percolated all season. David Murphy,, "From Jayson Tatum to Brad Stevens' coaching, an inconvenient loss for Sixers on many levels | David Murphy," 7 May 2018

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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Statistics for percolate

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for percolate

The first known use of percolate was in 1626

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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 \
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 \
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, -lət \

Medical Definition of percolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a product of percolation

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More from Merriam-Webster on percolate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with percolate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for percolate

Spanish Central: Translation of percolate

Nglish: Translation of percolate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on percolate

What made you want to look up percolate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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