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[streem] /strim/
a body of water flowing in a channel or watercourse, as a river, rivulet, or brook.
Synonyms: rill, run, streamlet, runnel.
a steady current in water, as in a river or the ocean: to row against the stream;
the Gulf Stream.
Synonyms: flow, tide.
any flow of water or other liquid or fluid:
streams of blood.
a current or flow of air, gas, or the like.
a beam or trail of light:
A stream of moonlight fell from the clouds.
a continuous flow or succession of anything:
a stream of words.
Synonyms: torrent, rush.
prevailing direction; drift:
the stream of opinion.
Digital Technology. a flow of data, as an audio broadcast, a movie, or live video, transmitted smoothly and continuously from a source to a computer, mobile device, etc.
verb (used without object)
to flow, pass, or issue in a stream, as water, tears, or blood.
Synonyms: pour.
to send forth or throw off a stream; run or flow (often followed by with):
eyes streaming with tears.
to extend in a beam or in rays, as light:
Sunlight streamed in through the windows.
to move or proceed continuously like a flowing stream, as a procession.
to wave or float outward, as a flag in the wind.
to hang in a loose, flowing manner, as long hair.
verb (used with object)
to send forth or discharge in a stream:
The wound streamed blood.
to cause to stream or float outward, as a flag.
Digital Technology. to transfer or transmit (data) in such a way that it is processed in a steady and continuous stream:
Internet service providers are talking about setting limits on the amount of data that can be streamed into your home.
Nautical. to place (an object) in the water at the end of a line attached to a vessel.
on stream, in or into operation:
The factory will be on stream in a month.
Origin of stream
before 900; (noun) Middle English streem, Old English strēam; cognate with German Strom, Old Norse straumr; akin to Greek rheîn to flow (see rheum); (v.) Middle English streamen, derivative of the noun
Related forms
streamless, adjective
streamlike, adjective
interstream, adjective
outstream, verb (used with object)
understream, noun
Can be confused
brook, creek, river, stream.
Synonym Study
Stream, current refer to a steady flow. In this use they are interchangeable. In the sense of running water, however, a stream is a flow that may be as small as a brook or as large as a river: A number of streams have their sources in mountains. Current refers to the most rapidly moving part of the stream: This river has a swift current. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for stream
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A stream of water, pure as crystal, flowed along the path, from the summit to the base.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Thoughts of crossing the stream by swimming occurred to him.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • There's one about a quarter of a mile down the stream—Stetson's boat.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Running at a low level, the waters of that stream were deplorably dirty.

    'Tis Sixty Years Since Charles Francis Adams
  • They were on the bank of a stream of some width, and apparently a deep and rapid one.

British Dictionary definitions for stream


a small river; brook
any steady flow of water or other fluid
something that resembles a stream in moving continuously in a line or particular direction
a rapid or unbroken flow of speech, etc: a stream of abuse
a flow of money into a business: a revenue stream
(Brit) any of several parallel classes of schoolchildren, or divisions of children within a class, grouped together because of similar ability
go with the stream, drift with the stream, to conform to the accepted standards
off stream, (of an industrial plant, manufacturing process, etc) shut down or not in production
on stream
  1. (of an industrial plant, manufacturing process, etc) in or about to go into operation or production
  2. available or in existence
to emit or be emitted in a continuous flow: his nose streamed blood
(intransitive) to move in unbroken succession, as a crowd of people, vehicles, etc
(intransitive) to float freely or with a waving motion: bunting streamed in the wind
(transitive) to unfurl (a flag, etc)
(intransitive) to move causing a trail of light, condensed gas, etc, as a jet aircraft
(mining) when intr, often foll by for. to wash (earth, gravel, etc) in running water in prospecting (for gold, etc), to expose the particles of ore or metal
(Brit, education) to group or divide (children) in streams
Derived Forms
streamlet, noun
streamlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English; related to Old Frisian strām, Old Norse straumr, Old High German stroum, Greek rheuma
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 stream

Old English stream "a course of water," from Proto-Germanic *straumaz (cf. Old Saxon strom, Old Norse straumr, Danish strøm, Swedish ström, Norwegian straum, Old Frisian stram, Dutch stroom, Old High German stroum, German Strom "current, river"), from PIE root *sreu- "flow" (see rheum). Meaning "current in the sea" (e.g. Gulf Stream) is recorded from late 14c. Stream of consciousness in lit crit first recorded 1931, originally in psychology (1855).


early 13c., from stream (n.). Related: Streamed; streaming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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stream in Science
  1. A flow of water in a channel or bed, as a brook, rivulet, or small river.

  2. A flow of a watery substance, such as blood in blood vessels or cytoplasm in fungal hyphae, in an organism or in part of an organism.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with stream
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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