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[verb pur-kuh-leyt; noun pur-kuh-lit, -leyt] /verb ˈpɜr kəˌleɪt; noun ˈpɜr kə lɪt, -ˌleɪt/
verb (used with object), percolated, percolating.
to cause (a liquid) to pass through a porous body; filter.
(of a liquid) to filter through; permeate.
to brew (coffee) in a percolator.
verb (used without object), percolated, percolating.
to pass through a porous substance; filter; ooze; seep; trickle.
to become percolated:
The coffee is starting to percolate.
to become active, lively, or spirited.
to show activity, movement, or life; grow or spread gradually; germinate:
Interest in the idea has begun to percolate.
a percolated liquid.
Origin of percolate
1620-30; < Latin percōlātus, past participle of percōlāre to filter. See per-, colander, -ate1
Related forms
percolable, adjective
percolative, adjective
unpercolated, adjective
Pronunciation note
The pronunciation of percolate as
[pur-kyuh-leyt] /ˈpɜr kyəˌleɪt/ (Show IPA)
with an intrusive y -glide, results from analogy with words like circulate and matriculate, where the unstressed vowel following the k -sound is symbolized by a u spelling, making the y -glide mandatory. In similar words where
[k] /k/
is followed by some other vowel, the [y] /y/ represents a hypercorrection. The pronunciation of escalate as [es-kyuh-leyt] /ˈɛs kyəˌleɪt/ is another such example. See coupon, new. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for percolate


verb (ˈpɜːkəˌleɪt)
to cause (a liquid) to pass through a fine mesh, porous substance, etc, or (of a liquid) to pass through a fine mesh, porous substance, etc; trickle: rain percolated through the roof
to permeate; penetrate gradually: water percolated the road
(intransitive) (US, informal) to become active or lively: she percolated with happiness
to make (coffee) or (of coffee) to be made in a percolator
noun (ˈpɜːkəlɪt; -ˌleɪt)
a product of percolation
Derived Forms
percolable (ˈpɜːkələbəl) adjective
percolation, noun
percolative, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin percolāre, from per + cōlāre to strain, from cōlum a strainer; see colander
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for percolate

1620s, a back-formation from percolation, or else from Latin percolatus, past participle of percolare "to strain through." Figurative sense by 1670s. Related: Percolated; percolating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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percolate in Medicine

percolate per·co·late (pûr'kə-lāt')
v. per·co·lat·ed, per·co·lat·ing, per·co·lates

  1. To cause a liquid to pass slowly through a porous substance or small holes; filter.

  2. To drain or seep through.

  3. To cause a solvent liquid to pass through a mixture, such as a powdered drug, so as to extract the soluble portion.

n. (-lĭt, -lāt')
A liquid that has been percolated.
per'co·la'tion n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for percolate



  1. To run smoothly and well: The little engine was percolating nicely (1925+)
  2. To saunter; stroll; ooze: Percolate on down the Avenue (1942+ Black)

[all senses fr the coffee-making device; sense of ''run well,'' for example, fr the steady cheery bubbling of the coffeemaker]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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