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

The gyrations have rippled across corporate America, prompting manufacturers, retailers and others that rely on imports for their businesses to try to adjust their strategies based on the president’s latest whim. Alan Rappeport, New York Times, "How 4 Companies Struggle to Navigate Trump’s Trade Uncertainty," 29 Aug. 2019 But the island’s political crisis has rippled through Washington as the turmoil continues to unfold. Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, "Trump administration to place new restrictions on billions in aid for Puerto Rico amid island’s political crisis," 1 Aug. 2019 The 737 Max grounding has rippled throughout the airline industry: Airlines have canceled flights, dropped routes, left airports and suspended plane purchases. Anneken Tappe, CNN, "What to expect from Friday's GDP report," 25 July 2019 Definitely on my like list: the motion of the lotus blossoms, which reminds me of the June Taylor Dancers (Kids, ask your nana), and the rippling fire-ography near the end, after the tower emerges. Dewayne Bevil,, "Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Getting into the swim of ‘Rivers of Light: We Are One'," 3 July 2019 The dispute has rippled through the broader outdoor community. Christine Yu, Outside Online, "What Happened at the SHIFT Festival?," 25 June 2019 Researchers can now program synthetic tissue to make coils, cubes and rippling plates. Quanta Magazine, "Tissue Engineers Hack Life’s Code for 3-D Folded Shapes," 16 June 2019 Rumors and reports of ICE raids have rippled through communities and social media with regularity; arrests of parents, recorded on their children’s cell phone cameras, have provoked nationwide outrage. Dara Lind, Vox, "“Abolish ICE,” explained," 19 Mar. 2018 Also February: While Los Angeles was experiencing one of the coldest, rainy winters in recent memory, digital warriors engaged in an act of online trolling that would have widespread consequences of rippling cruelty. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: A YouTube star’s fans listed his mansion as a homeless shelter. Then the needy showed up.," 2 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But even in some of its major losses, like at Samsung Electronics Co., the repercussion of its agitations can send ripples beyond the proxy clash. Scott Deveau, Fortune, "‘There Will Be a Fight’: AT&T Stock Soars As Activist Investor Looks to Shake Things Up," 9 Sep. 2019 This particular floating home, owned by Ted and Malia Rudolf, ripples with visions of the Netherlands and Hawaii. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Sausalito houseboat a salute to modern Danish art and Hawaiian wood," 31 Aug. 2019 The concept can be seen in the regular-sized world as well, in everything from water ripples on a lake to noise-canceling headphones. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Build Schrödinger's Cat on a Quantum Level," 21 Aug. 2019 The observatory had detected an outburst of gravitational waves, or ripples in spacetime, and an orbiting gamma-ray telescope had simultaneously seen electromagnetic radiation emanating from the same region of space. Anil Ananthaswamy, Scientific American, "Faced with a Data Deluge, Astronomers Turn to Automation," 21 Aug. 2019 Nili Patera is a region on Mars in which dunes and ripples are moving rapidly. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Life may have existed on warm, rainy, ancient Mars before winter came," 20 Aug. 2019 The ruling made ripples in California and other Western states, effectively blocking municipalities from citing or arresting those who violate local rules prohibiting camping in public areas. Priscella Vega, Daily Pilot, "Huntington Beach tentatively approves new police management contract," 20 Aug. 2019 Speaking with Science’s Frederick, Hirad explains that the brain, much like the surface of a pond after a rock is thrown, ripples when hit from any angle. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "One Concussion-Free Football Season Can Still Damage Players’ Brains," 15 Aug. 2019 Lastly, there may be ripples beyond Kashmir (see article). The Economist, "Modi’s revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy," 9 Aug. 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

2 Sep 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

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).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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