rip·​ple | \ ˈri-pəl How to pronounce ripple (audio) \
rippled; rippling\ ˈri-​p(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce ripple (audio) \

Definition of ripple

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to become lightly ruffled or covered with small waves
b : to flow in small waves
c : to fall in soft undulating folds the scarf rippled to the floor
2 : to flow with a light rise and fall of sound or inflection laughter rippled over the audience
3 : to move with an undulating motion or so as to cause ripples the canoe rippled through the water
4 : to have or produce a ripple effect : spread the news rippled outwards

transitive verb

1 : to stir up small waves on
2 : to impart a wavy motion or appearance to rippling his arm muscles
3 : to utter or play with a slight rise and fall of sound



Definition of ripple (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a shallow stretch of rough water in a stream
b(1) : the ruffling of the surface of water
(2) : a small wave
b : a sound like that of rippling water a ripple of laughter
c : a usually slight noticeable effect or reaction

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Other Words from ripple


rippler \ ˈri-​p(ə-​)lər How to pronounce ripple (audio) \ noun


ripply \ ˈri-​p(ə-​)lē How to pronounce ripple (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for ripple

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of ripple in a Sentence

Verb Water rippled under the dock. We could see the lion's muscles ripple. A cool breeze rippled the water. Noun The pebble made ripples in the pond when I threw it in.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Rising asset prices, plus riskier investor appetites, were noted in the Fed’s latest Financial Stability Report, with fears that a significant drop-off in asset prices could ripple through the broader financial system. Washington Post, "Fed concerned about the risks that accompany soaring markets," 6 May 2021 Wilson said the benefits of such a plan will ripple out from Morgan’s campus to improve the quality of life in Baltimore and other communities struggling with health disparities, poverty and other challenges. Lillian Reed,, "How Maryland’s historically Black universities will use $577 million from state to close wealth gap, strengthen communities," 5 May 2021 The debate over where to draw those lines continues to divide residents and ripple across the state’s political landscape — even as the fragile region has become inundated with curious and, at times, careless visitors. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Biden is poised to expand Bears Ears and Grand Staircase monuments. The real question is by how much?," 11 Apr. 2021 In this era of easy money, Archegos was able to borrow so much that its failure created shockwaves large enough to ripple across Wall Street. Allison Morrow, CNN, "Hedge fund meltdown is a (another) warning to Wall Street," 29 Mar. 2021 Many analysts said the decision to pull troops wouldn't end the conflict but would ripple through domestic and international politics, creating new risks on both fronts. Nicole Gaouette, CNN, "Biden's risky decision to end America's longest war gives him a chance to refocus US foreign policy," 13 Apr. 2021 Kuzma was one of them, his injury happening against the Raptors on Tuesday in Tampa a cautionary moment for the team to remember how significant injuries can ripple. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "Lakers, missing two more players, fall short against the Heat," 8 Apr. 2021 The looming concerns are threatening to ripple worldwide and cloud the global rollout of a cheap and easy-to-store vaccine, one that remains many countries’ best hope for saving lives amid a widespread surge in coronavirus cases. New York Times, "Possible Side Effects of AstraZeneca Vaccine Come Into Sharper Focus," 6 Apr. 2021 This year, those traumas continue to ripple through Black communities. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, "Breonna Taylor has been gone a year. Why we need to talk more about the racial trauma of Black death.," 11 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun These are just some of the microaggressions, quiet bigotries and structural hurdles that diplomats say ripple under the State Department's cosmopolitan veneer. Nicole Gaouette, CNN, "Blinken's battle to make State Department more diverse will face steep resistance, diplomats of color say," 6 May 2021 Although a cowboy’s hand might only move a few inches, the ripple down the length of the whip grows larger until the tip of the whip snaps several feet through the air. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, "The global semiconductor shortage can be explained by the bullwhip effect," 5 May 2021 Practically seamless, the outer panes curve and ripple; their three-dimensional surface enhanced by a dichroic film that produces endless color variations. Stacey Leascsa, Travel + Leisure, "Louis Vuitton’s New Tokyo Flagship Store Is a Work of Art — and It Has a Chocolate Boutique," 22 Mar. 2021 There is no way in a finite space to recount every heartbreaking closure, or trace every disruptive ripple through the food industry, or glean complete understanding of recent events. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, "A timeline tracing an impossible year in L.A. dining," 18 Mar. 2021 But in Beijing, Biden's fighting words have barely made a ripple, at least on the surface. James Griffiths, CNN, "The great power race between the US and China is on. And Beijing is confident of winning," 30 Apr. 2021 Chauvin's conviction this week sent a ripple of relief throughout the school and its south Minneapolis community and ushered in a wave of pride for Frazier, who helped make it so. NBC News, "A high school 2 miles from where George Floyd died plays outsize role in Chauvin trial," 24 Apr. 2021 But that big wave of demand turned out to be barely more than a ripple. Dan Reed, Forbes, "Airline Stocks Are Rising, But IATA’s Chief Says A Travel Recovery Is Still A Long Way Off," 25 Feb. 2021 Featuring the original ripple design that was inspired by Japanese bullet trains, the Nike Air Max 97 SE goes a little wild with animal print accents on the upper. oregonlive, "It’s Nike Air Max Day 2021: Classics or new releases, which pair is your favorite?," 26 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ripple.' 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 ripple


circa 1671, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1755, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ripple


perhaps frequentative of rip entry 1

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Time Traveler for ripple

Time Traveler

The first known use of ripple was circa 1671

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Statistics for ripple

Last Updated

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ripple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for ripple



English Language Learners Definition of ripple

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move in small waves
: to pass or spread through or over (someone or something)



English Language Learners Definition of ripple (Entry 2 of 2)

: a small wave on the surface of a liquid
: a shape or pattern having small waves
: a sound that gradually becomes louder and then quieter


rip·​ple | \ ˈri-pəl How to pronounce ripple (audio) \
rippled; rippling

Kids Definition of ripple

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move or cause to move in small waves The lion's muscles rippled. A breeze rippled the water.
2 : to pass or spread over or through Laughter rippled through the crowd.



Kids Definition of ripple (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a very small wave on the surface of a liquid The rock made ripples in the pond.
2 : something that passes or spreads through a ripple of laughter

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