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

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 Across the alley, the breeze rippling the leaves in a three-story cottonwood sighs like a wave dying on a beach. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "Coronavirus pandemic has provided a quiet pause for live sports — and it isn’t all that bad," 23 May 2020 In the weeks since the Lowe farm’s auction, coronavirus outbreaks at slaughterhouses have wreaked havoc on much of the country’s meat production supply chain, with the more than 10,000 cases rippling all the way up to cattle farmers in Kentucky. USA Today, "‘Cows will need bred’: Coronavirus is hitting the meat industry all the way up to animal breeders," 18 May 2020 An additional three million workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, continuing a two-month trend of historically high claims as the coronavirus pandemic rippled through the U.S. economy. Sarah Chaney And Gwynn Guilford, WSJ, "Nearly Three Million Sought Jobless Benefits Last Week," 14 May 2020 The financial impact of the COVID-19 shutdown continues to ripple through the world of collegiate athletics. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, "Boise State coaches included in school furloughs as coronavirus-related losses mount," 22 Apr. 2020 Like a pebble tossed in a pond, the virus rippled throughout the region, helping turn the area within weeks into a hot spot for COVID-19 — and giving Hopkins County the highest infection rate, and the second-highest death rate, in Kentucky. Joe Sonka, The Courier-Journal, "Coronavirus hot spots plague Western Kentucky, Southeast Indiana and Northern Tennessee," 10 Apr. 2020 In the age of COVID-19, the seismic shift from dining out to dining in already has rippled through dairy industry, creating a situation in which there is too much butter from the farms and not enough bread in the stores. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, "U.S. agriculture: Can it handle coronavirus, labor shortages and panic buying?," 5 Apr. 2020 The viridian-green branches of loblolly pines rise 60 feet above a carpet of soft, tufted grasses, rippling slightly in the breeze. Brian Barth, Popular Science, "The secret to curbing farm emissions is buried in the Stone Age," 1 Apr. 2020 News of the store's financial troubles rippled through social media. NBC News, "Iconic San Francisco bookstore closed by coronavirus may never reopen," 10 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Other major economies around the world are set to follow, joining Japan as well as Germany and France in recession, as efforts to contain the outbreak ripple around the globe. New York Times, "Stock Markets and Oil Prices Rise as Investors Look Ahead: Live Updates," 18 May 2020 City manager Robert Layton is sitting through two or three meetings a week on what to expect, as fallout from the Max’s temporary shut-down ripples through the aircraft’s 600 mostly U.S. suppliers. Michael Sasso,, "Boeing’s Max Troubles Begin to Spill Into Broader Economy," 10 May 2020 With everything at a standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic, the corresponding ripples across all levels will be felt once a restart plan is in place. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers' pitching scenario anything but normal when 2020 season starts," 9 May 2020 Like a boulder dropped in a pond, the resulting ripples would extend far and wide. Sam Farmerstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "With the prospect of empty stadiums, how will the NFL move forward?," 8 May 2020 How did Yovani Gallardo's injury ripple throughout the season? Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers Podcast: Sabathia, Braun and a wild finish ... let's look back at the 2008 playoff season," 6 May 2020 The light from the street lamps is slashed by the rain and ripples over his face. Katherine Dunn, The New Yorker, "The Resident Poet," 4 May 2020 The full repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic will be felt for years, but one more immediate ripple is already occurring. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Security News This Week: Spies Say Covid-19 Isn't Manmade," 2 May 2020 As people everywhere cancel events and big cut-flower orders, the ripples reach into Dutch auction halls and Kenyan rose fields. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Working from home, online grocery shopping, cord cutting: What coronavirus trends will stick," 1 May 2020

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

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ripple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for ripple


How to pronounce ripple (audio)

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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