rip·​ple | \ˈri-pəl \
rippled; rippling\ˈri-​p(ə-​)liŋ \

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

2a : ripple mark

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 \ noun


ripply \ˈri-​p(ə-​)lē \ 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

But the unexpected has been rippling across every corner of Facebook for more than two years now. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How Facebook’s crisis PR firm triggered a PR crisis," 17 Nov. 2018 His abs have glistened and his hair has rippled in many bodice-ripping situations. Kathleen Hou, The Cut, "The World’s Busiest Romance Cover Model on His Skin-Care Routine," 10 July 2018 Such discussions have rippled through the community of some 30,000 North Korean defectors in Seoul and elsewhere across South Korea. Brian Murphy,, "Outspoken North Korean defectors allow themselves to wonder: Could they really go home again?," 10 June 2018 But the events still rippled through the Valley office. Bryan Smith, Los Angeles Magazine, "How Lisa Bloom Bounced Back From Defending Harvey Weinstein," 8 June 2018 The heightened scrutiny has rippled across industries and ensnared numerous powerful men, from journalists Matt Lauer and Mark Halperin to chefs Mario Batali and John Besh. Brynn Gingras, Emanuella Grinberg And Sonia Moghe, CNN, "Harvey Weinstein will be charged with rape, source says," 25 May 2018 Many immigrant families have retreated to the shadows, and the implications have rippled across a range of societal institutions. Aaron Nelsen, San Antonio Express-News, "After arrest of Valley organizer, immigrant community retreats to the shadows," 23 Apr. 2018 The news came in a flash, then rippled throughout the arena. John Branch, New York Times, "The One Sport That Made Replay as Exhilarating as the Sport Itself," 21 Feb. 2018 Like the best Tuareg artists who’e made inroads in the rock world, the Nigerien musician has never lost direction, but for his new record, Deran (Partisan), Bombino returned to Africa to record his rippling grooves in Casablanca, Morocco. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Tuareg singer and guitarist Bombino reinforces his connection to Africa with his bristling new album, Deran," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But another private space company announcing its plan to carry humans into space sends ripples throughout the industry. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Stratolaunch Has a New Spaceplane, and It's Designed With Humans in Mind," 21 Aug. 2018 The ripples are still being felt from coast to coast. Phil Rosenthal,, "With ESPN's help, NBA is becoming a year-round concern for sports fans," 9 July 2018 The concerns over Iran involve ripples and repercussions of a different sort. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why the US undervalues nuts and bolts diplomacy at its peril," 2 Apr. 2018 Just like a photon of light behaves like both a particle and a wave, this blob also has wavelike properties, where one part can actually interfere with another part, to produce ripples in itself like waves colliding in a pond. Sophia Chen, WIRED, "The Quest to Make Super Cold Quantum Blobs in Space," 25 June 2018 That Gretna didn’t set out to program women is actually one of the more encouraging signs as notions of gender equality ripple through artistic realms. Peter Dobrin,, "Classical concerts: 'Star Wars' at the Mann, Curtis Summerfest, 'Fred' the organ at Kimmel, more," 6 June 2018 The attack Cruz is alleged to have unleashed on the school Wednesday killed 17 people, including three JROTC members who were at school that day, sending a tragic ripple through the group of 275 students and highlighting their courage under fire. The Washington Post,, "JROTC remembers 3 slain in Florida high school shooting," 20 Feb. 2018 The #MeToo movement that has toppled the careers of Hollywood luminaries and political heavyweights has registered little more than a ripple in Venezuela. Washington Post, "In embattled Venezuela, beauty offers ladder out of poverty," 6 July 2018 Loss of historic farms causes economic ripples Gary Rock, 59, lives in Hodgenville, Kentucky, an area of rolling hills and loose rock fences, on a farm that has been passed down through his family for 300 years. NBC News, "Best advice to U.S. dairy farmers? 'Sell out as fast as you can'," 30 June 2018

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

9 Dec 2018

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 \
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

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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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