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 That indicates that inflation fears haven't disappeared, and could continue to ripple through markets in the days and weeks to come. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "That didn't take long. Manic markets are back again," 25 Feb. 2021 The kingdom remains a heavyweight in the group even today and its decisions ripple through the oil industry, affecting prices from the barrel down to the gasoline pump. Jon Gambrell, Star Tribune, "Long-serving Saudi oil minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani dies at 90," 23 Feb. 2021 The kingdom remains a heavyweight in OPEC even today and its decisions ripple through the oil industry, affecting prices from the barrel down to the gasoline pump. Washington Post, "Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi minister and symbol of ‘the new age of oil,’ dies at 90," 23 Feb. 2021 The pandemic’s effect may ripple through the Black community in the years to come. Darcie Moran, Detroit Free Press, "COVID-19 shined a light on racial health disparities. What comes next?," 11 Feb. 2021 As the coronavirus surges continue to ripple across the United States, Europe is bracing for what some fear is a second wave. Tyler Van Dyke, Washington Examiner, "Europe surpasses US daily COVID-19 caseload for first time since April," 15 Oct. 2020 But a growing number of companies have decided to shift permanently to remote work, decisions that will ripple through lifestyles, real estate and the shape of communities. Jackie Crosby, Star Tribune, "Why some Minnesota companies are ditching the office and going remote, forever," 30 Jan. 2021 Fallout from the holidays could still ripple across the United States for weeks to come. Holly Yan, CNN, "Don't ignore this headline: The pandemic is getting worse. What happens next is up to you," 15 Jan. 2021 The loss of hundreds and thousands of visitors who normally would flock to the region for the inauguration will ripple throughout the economy at a time when many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Washington Post, "An inhospitable Washington adjusts to an unconventional inauguration," 15 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But nothing is a given this time — considering that none of the would-be leaders have managed to make much of a ripple with potential voters. Washington Post, "Germany looks ahead to life without Merkel. But the leadership race is leaving voters cold.," 14 Jan. 2021 The positive economic ripple underscored the gritty resilience. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Amid the pain, 2020 reminded us that sports matter," 27 Dec. 2020 Bounce a quarter off the mattress, Zurek says, and while no single spring will move much, the coin could set off a ripple that passes through many springs. Quanta Magazine, "The Search for Dark Matter Is Dramatically Expanding," 23 Nov. 2020 This craving for kinship has led to a ripple of activity, including an annual Jewish Intentional Communities Conference, and the creation of advisory teams, like the Jewish Cohousing Network. Rachelle Stein-wotten,, "A Jewish cohousing movement is on the rise, but challenges beyond COVID remain," 18 Nov. 2020 This movement forwent the traditionally separate menswear and womenswear collections and has created a ripple in the industry that will be seen long after the pandemic. The T&c Fashion Editors, Town & Country, "The Biggest Fashion Moments from 2020," 28 Dec. 2020 How will the Fall of Trump ripple through movie screens? Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: How will the new post-Trump, Biden era shape TV shows and movies? We have some ideas," 27 Nov. 2020 While dispiriting, the new rise in cases is a ripple compared with surges in the US and Europe. Tara John, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Wednesday, November 25," 25 Nov. 2020 Most graduate transfers fail to make more than a ripple. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Ranking college football's best QBs through Week 13: Trevor Lawrence makes a move," 3 Dec. 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

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ripple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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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