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


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for ripple

Synonyms: Verb

bubble, dribble, guggle, gurgle, lap, plash, splash, trickle, wash

Antonyms: Verb

pour, roll, stream

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Examples of ripple in a Sentence


Water rippled under the dock. We could see the lion's muscles ripple. A cool breeze rippled the water.


The pebble made ripples in the pond when I threw it in.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Meanwhile, reshaping the T has been perhaps Baker’s longest-running challenge, underscored by the still-rippling delays caused by a June 11 derailment on the Red Line. Matt Stout,, "While Baker is in London, criticism mounts over handling of RMV and MBTA," 26 June 2019 Look closely and Harber’s magic becomes apparent: rippling across the water at regular intervals (and controlled by robotics) are small gold-and-black petals reminiscent of autumn leaves. Ingrid Abramovitch, ELLE Decor, "The Top 5 Takeaways from the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show," 23 May 2019 In the midst of this seismic swarm, a strange low-frequency rumble rippled around the world, ringing sensors nearly 11,000 miles away—and baffling scientists. National Geographic, "Strange waves rippled around Earth. Now we may know why.," 21 May 2019 Investors are fleeing emerging-market assets, highlighting how fears of escalating trade conflicts are rippling through financial markets. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Trade Worries Slam Emerging Markets," 3 June 2019 Photos: Getty Images The grounding of Boeing Co.’s 737 MAX jetliners continues to ripple through the airline industry, with two airlines now extending flight cancellations into August as efforts to fix the planes are beset with delays. Doug Cameron, WSJ, "American Joins Southwest in Extending Flight Cancellations as Jet-Grounding Drags On," 14 Apr. 2019 To the pulsating beat, the audience enjoyed a parade of sharp jaws, rippling abs, flowing hair, Burberry, Balenciaga, and Dior. Ian Malone, Vogue, "This Year’s Jeffrey Fashion Cares Event Unfolded in Spectacular Fashion," 11 Apr. 2019 And her decision to date guys while separated from Sadie ripples through her little community of friends across the first season’s six episodes. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Hulu’s queer comedy of manners explores sex and love in 2018 London.," 20 Nov. 2018 If Southwest were to buy Airbus jets, shock waves would ripple from Dallas through Chicago to Seattle. Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times, "737 MAX crisis prompts Southwest pilots to question its all-Boeing fleet," 12 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His introduction was a small ripple that affected me formatively. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Suspect in fatal Milpitas freeway shooting and victim were set to be stepbrothers, report," 28 June 2019 The lawsuit is just the latest ripple in an intensifying political uproar over the treatment of immigrant children. Cindy Carcamo,, "Lawsuit accuses U.S. government of holding migrant children in ‘deplorable’ conditions," 26 June 2019 As the news ripples across the state and country, Republican lawmakers immediately vow to challenge the court. Jonathan Lai,, "Pennsylvania, gerrymandered: A guide to Pa.'s congressional map redistricting fight," 8 Mar. 2018 Standing next to me, Lukasz Dominikowski, armed with his asparagus cutter (a long, flat tool with a sharp, forked blade), has detected a ripple. Christie Dietz, National Geographic, "Calling all foodies: Germany's 'white gold' season is in full swing," 14 May 2019 Yet this past weekend, a similar headline concerning a founding member of OPEC and, until 2016, a larger crude producer than all but the first two aforementioned countries, caused barely a ripple. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Venezuela Is Oil Market’s Bizarro World," 7 Aug. 2018 The murder of 16-year-old Felix Valentin on a sweltering afternoon in 1988 barely caused a ripple amid a summer of rising gang violence on Chicago’s West Side. Jason Meisner,, "Controversial ex-Chicago cop expected to take the Fifth at trial over wrongful conviction," 5 June 2018 Ostensibly, the still-modest numbers barely caused a ripple in a country of 82 million that includes about 10.6 million foreigners. Erik Kirschbaum,, "Britons living in Germany and elsewhere in Europe go for dual citizenship to guard against Brexit," 29 May 2018 Off-the-rack ripples On Sunday, Trump visited a church in Virginia. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Analysis: What’s with Trump’s suits? Asking a tailor," 4 June 2019

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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Statistics for ripple

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ripple

The first known use of ripple was circa 1671

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on ripple

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ripple

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ripple

Spanish Central: Translation of ripple

Nglish: Translation of ripple for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ripple for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ripple

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