verb (used without object), rip·pled, rip·pling.

verb (used with object), rip·pled, rip·pling.

to form small waves or undulations on; agitate lightly.
to mark as if with ripples; give a wavy form to.


Origin of ripple

First recorded in 1660–70; origin uncertain
Related formsrip·ple·less, adjectiverip·pling·ly, adverb

Synonyms for ripple

1. wave, undulate, purl. 5. ruffle, curl, dimple. 7. wavelet, ruffling. See wave.


[rip-uh l]


a toothed or comblike device for removing seeds or capsules from flax, hemp, etc.

verb (used with object), rip·pled, rip·pling.

to remove the seeds or capsules from (flax or hemp) with a ripple.

Origin of ripple

1425–75; late Middle English ripel; cognate with Dutch repel, German Riffel Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ripple

Contemporary Examples of ripple

Historical Examples of ripple

  • "I see you have found him," she said, with a ripple of laughter.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Presently, her happy musing was broken by a ripple from the outer world.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • But the water, smooth again now, was not stirred by so much as a ripple.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • In a few days 412 after the dead were found in a ripple and buried.

    Chronicles of Border Warfare

    Alexander Scott Withers

  • Scarcely a ripple marked its progress, and the nose of it slid up on the sand.

    The Heads of Apex

    Francis Flagg

British Dictionary definitions for ripple




a slight wave or undulation on the surface of water
a small wave or undulation in fabric, hair, etc
a sound reminiscent of water flowing quietly in ripplesa ripple of laughter
electronics an oscillation of small amplitude superimposed on a steady value
US and Canadian another word for riffle (def. 4)
another word for ripple mark


(intr) to form ripples or flow with a rippling or undulating motion
(tr) to stir up (water) so as to form ripples
(tr) to make ripple marks
(intr) (of sounds) to rise and fall gentlyher laughter rippled through the air
Derived Formsrippler, nounrippling, adjectiveripplingly, adverbripply, adjective

Word Origin for ripple

C17: perhaps from rip 1




a special kind of comb designed to separate the seed from the stalks in flax, hemp, or broomcorn


(tr) to comb with this tool
Derived Formsrippler, noun

Word Origin for ripple

C14: of Germanic origin; compare Middle Dutch repelen, Middle High German reffen to ripple
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

Word Origin and History for ripple

early 15c., "to crease;" 1660s, "to present a ruffled surface," of unknown origin, perhaps a frequentative of rip (v.). Transitive sense "cause to ripple" is from 1786. Related: Rippled; rippling.


"very small wave," 1798, from earlier meaning "stretch of shallow, rippling water" (1755), from ripple (v.). Meaning "mark or movement suggestive of a ripple" is from 1843. Meaning "ice cream streaked with colored syrup" first attested 1939, so called from its appearance. As the name of a brand of inexpensive wine sold by E&J Gallo Winery, from 1960 to 1984. Ripple effect is from 1950.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper