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 For half a mile the whole watercourse was de-channelized, so that the spring water could bend through the park, alternating slow curves and fast runs with rippling currents. Patrick Symmes, Harper's magazine, "The $68,000 Fish," 28 Oct. 2019 The effects of the deadly hate crime have rippled throughout the country since. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "Fortified synagogues and guards 'everybody knows.' How life changed a year after the Tree of Life massacre," 27 Oct. 2019 Adding significantly to the ambiance is a small pool of rippling water at the piece’s center. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: From artist Timothy Johnson, a heady exhibition," 18 Oct. 2019 Soon a crispy wave fern arrived, a frisky-looking thing with rippling tendrils. Wired, "The On-Demand Economy Brings Us Something Useful: Nature," 24 Sep. 2019 Investors have also been watching for signs of how the U.S. trade battle with China will ripple through the domestic economy. Gunjan Banerji, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Climb Ahead of Central-Bank Meetings," 17 June 2019 Their classmates screamed for each triumphant pose, waves of joyful noise rippling through the hall., "ada Pierre is tiny, her ambition drawn taut as a bowstring. The 16-year-old daughter of Haitian immigrants wears her hair in a small bun atop her head, her emerging political consciousness finding its voice in the bevy of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo stickers she’s pasted to her MacBook.," 15 Sep. 2019 The outgoing government is introducing measures, including price freezes and handouts, to try to protect the population from the shock rippling through the economy. The Economist, "Blame populists, not reformers, for Argentina’s latest fiasco," 5 Sep. 2019 The protagonist's simmering psychosis is echoed in the unrest rippling through the city, given gritty, grubby textures and deep, rich hues by cinematographer Lawrence Sher. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Joker': Film Review | Venice 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The ripples in the water greatly hinder their chances of spotting the beast –– or any gator for that matter. Karina Elwood,, "Alligator hunting: For 2 Florida friends, a last chance to kill an elusive beast," 8 Nov. 2019 So, Lee created his own pool, a square with two rocks, four sheets of shiny stainless steel and water called Relatum—Box Garden, with only the wind creating ripples on its still, reflecting surface. Roger Catlin, Smithsonian, "Lee Ufan’s Transformative Sculptures Are in Dialogue With the Spaces They Inhabit," 3 Oct. 2019 Though the change is not expected to create immediate ripples in the condo market in Boulder County, many Realtors and lenders see it as a welcome option for many buyers who have been on the sidelines. Pratik Joshi, The Denver Post, "FHA rule change regarding condo loans could allow more buyers to break into Boulder County market," 29 Sep. 2019 That's because by cutting down trees, moisture that would cool the air is lost and the warmer air rises to the upper atmosphere, creating ripples that flow outward and can alter the climate of other regions. NBC News, "How the Amazon's fires, deforestation affect the U.S. Midwest," 23 Aug. 2019 However, astronomers also expect such systems to create ripples known as gravitational waves if and when the black hole and neutron star merge. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "Astronomers probably just saw a black hole swallow a dead star," 16 Aug. 2019 Like a ripple in the water, the center becomes the fringe. Chris Richards, Washington Post, "Bruce Springsteen and Madonna are subcultures now," 17 June 2019 Photo: Rory Gardiner Photo: Rory Gardiner The exterior drapes over the interior creating ripples of concrete that arch up from the ground and frame the nearby hills. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Concrete desert retreat mimics surrounding mountains and dunes," 12 June 2019 Inside Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn had just honored the late Rod and Paula Bramblett — the former Voice of the Auburn Tigers and his wife, who died in a May car crash that sent ripples throughout the Auburn community. Tom Green |, al, "Inside Andy Burcham’s 1st home game as Voice of the Auburn Tigers," 9 Sep. 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

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for ripple

The first known use of ripple was circa 1671

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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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Comments on ripple

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

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