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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from percolate

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

Synonyms for percolate


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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Big issues percolate with Russia, Turkey, Iran, North Korea and Syria. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Storm clouds gather for GOP as midterms approach – but forecast isn’t clear," 22 Aug. 2018 During the 19-day battle, violence percolated through occasional lifting of the blanketing fog. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "Thousands of Japanese fought in a bloody World War II battle for the Aleutians. Only 28 survived.," 24 May 2018 The idea has been percolating in Britain over the past few months, and support for it is growing as the standoff over May’s Brexit proposal raises the possibility that the UK could crash out of the EU with no deal at all. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The case for holding a second Brexit referendum," 17 Dec. 2018 To be sure, though futures show fear percolating in markets, other signals hint at a more optimistic outlook. Gunjan Banerji, WSJ, "Volatility Signal Flashes Red, Even as Stocks Rebound," 8 Jan. 2019 The post—and subsequent aftermath—came in the wake of a much larger conversation (some might say feud) percolating on Twitter during the weekend that involved Drake and Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and Davidson's former fiancé Ariana Grande. Whitney Perry, Glamour, "Pete Davidson's Deleted Instagram, Ariana's Concern, and Kanye's Tweets: Here's What Happened," 16 Dec. 2018 The little bit of white in the lampshades and curtains stands at attention here and keeps things percolating. Lisa Cregan, House Beautiful, "Susan Ferrier on Creating a Cozy Lake House With Dark Colors," 18 Aug. 2014 Complaints about mistreatment in the British Parliament have percolated for years, in part owing to the vast power asymmetry between lawmakers and the young staff members who surround them. Ellen Barry, The Seattle Times, "‘Shocking and abhorrent’ abuse rampant in U.K. Parliament, report says," 15 Oct. 2018 Things are percolating downtown, though, with a flurry of brewpubs and upstarts like Miss Winnie’s Jamaican jerk house and Liquid Eatery, a vegan cafe opening in August with acai bowls, kombucha floats, and nut-milk shakes. Adam Erace,, "After finding themselves unexpectedly homeless in West Chester, chef and his wife put down roots at Andiario," 19 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about percolate

Statistics for percolate

Last Updated

21 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for percolate

The first known use of percolate was in 1626

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!