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[trik-uh l] /ˈtrɪk əl/
verb (used without object), trickled, trickling.
to flow or fall by drops, or in a small, gentle stream:
Tears trickled down her cheeks.
to come, go, or pass bit by bit, slowly, or irregularly:
The guests trickled out of the room.
verb (used with object), trickled, trickling.
to cause to trickle.
a trickling flow or stream.
a small, slow, or irregular quantity of anything coming, going, or proceeding:
a trickle of visitors throughout the day.
Origin of trickle
1325-75; Middle English triklen, trekelen (v.), apparently sandhi variant of strikle, perhaps equivalent to strike (in obsolete sense “flow”) + -le
Related forms
tricklingly, adverb
4. dribble, seepage, drip. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for trickle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then they were swimming, holding their heads high so no water could trickle into their ears.

    The Lost Wagon James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • The trickle in the ravine became a torrent, and he heard it roaring.

    The Eyes of the Woods Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Beside me, sprawled out limply, was Correy, a trickle of dried blood on his cheek.

  • They could see the trickle of water from the discharge pipe.

    All Day September Roger Kuykendall
  • And the echo of his receding stamp in the corridor drowned for a moment the trickle of the invisible water.

British Dictionary definitions for trickle


to run or cause to run in thin or slow streams: she trickled the sand through her fingers
(intransitive) to move, go, or pass gradually: the crowd trickled away
a thin, irregular, or slow flow of something
the act of trickling
Derived Forms
trickling, adjective
tricklingly, adverb
trickly, adjective
Word Origin
C14: perhaps of imitative origin
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 trickle

late 14c., possibly a shortened variant of stricklen "to trickle," a frequentative form of striken "to flow, move" (see strike). Related: Trickled; trickling. Trickle-down as an adjectival phrase in an economic sense first recorded 1944; the image had been in use at least since Teddy Roosevelt.


1570s, from trickle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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