[ verb pur-kuh-leyt; noun pur-kuh-lit, -leyt ]
See synonyms for percolate on
verb (used with object),per·co·lat·ed, per·co·lat·ing.
  1. to cause (a liquid) to pass through a porous body; filter.

  2. (of a liquid) to filter through; permeate.

  1. to brew (coffee) in a percolator.

verb (used without object),per·co·lat·ed, per·co·lat·ing.
  1. to pass through a porous substance; filter; ooze; seep; trickle.

  2. to become percolated: The coffee is starting to percolate.

  1. to become active, lively, or spirited.

  2. to show activity, movement, or life; grow or spread gradually; germinate: Interest in the idea has begun to percolate.

  1. a percolated liquid.

Origin of percolate

1620–30; <Latin percōlātus, past participle of percōlāre to filter. See per-, colander, -ate1

pronunciation note For percolate

The pronunciation of percolate as [pur-kyuh-leyt], /ˈpɜr kyəˌleɪt/, 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.

Other words from percolate

  • per·co·la·ble, adjective
  • per·co·la·tive, adjective
  • un·per·co·lat·ed, adjective

Words Nearby percolate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use percolate in a sentence

  • With pulp treated in steeping tanks, fresh water is allowed to percolate or drain slowly through the mass.

    The Manufacture of Paper | Robert Walter Sindall
  • No water can percolate athwart it, and consequently where it is, there the superincumbent soil is resolved into a quagmire.

    A Book of Ghosts | Sabine Baring-Gould
  • The Gulf had risen close enough to their little well to percolate through the sand into it and render it as salt as itself.

  • Concentrate the weak percolate to a soft extract and dissolve in the reserved portion.

  • Through pressure of instincts from past lives, strengths or weaknesses percolate gradually into human consciousness.

    Autobiography of a YOGI | Paramhansa Yogananda

British Dictionary definitions for percolate


  1. 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

  2. to permeate; penetrate gradually: water percolated the road

  1. (intr) US informal to become active or lively: she percolated with happiness

  2. to make (coffee) or (of coffee) to be made in a percolator

noun(ˈpɜːkəlɪt, -ˌleɪt)
  1. a product of percolation

Origin of percolate

C17: from Latin percolāre, from per + cōlāre to strain, from cōlum a strainer; see colander

Derived forms of percolate

  • percolable (ˈpɜːkələbəl), adjective
  • percolation, noun
  • percolative, adjective

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