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See more synonyms for runnel on Thesaurus.com
  1. a small stream; brook; rivulet.
  2. a small channel, as for water.
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Also run·let [ruhn-lit] /ˈrʌn lɪt/.

Origin of runnel

1570–80; run (noun) + -el diminutive suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for runnel

run, tributary, estuary, stream, tide, rush, flow, spate, surge, current, flood, torrent, eaves, duct, tube, dike, pipe, sewer, culvert, rill

Examples from the Web for runnel

Historical Examples of runnel

  • Just before him a runnel of water is gliding, and he bends his head to drink.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 7

    Charles H. Sylvester

  • He had a narrow thread of solid path, and he forced me into a runnel.

  • When he came again it was on a dark day in November, and every runnel of the fens was swollen.

  • On our left was the gorge, down which tumbled the runnel of water which I have before mentioned.

    The Bible in Spain

    George Borrow

  • I went up the field with the lane on my right, down which ran a runnel of water, from which doubtless the house derived its name.

    Wild Wales

    George Borrow

British Dictionary definitions for runnel


  1. literary a small stream
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Word Origin for runnel

C16: from Old English rynele; related to run
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 runnel


"rivulet," 1570s, in Hakluyt, alteration of Middle English ryneil, from Old English rinelle, rynel, a diminutive of ryne "a stream" (see run (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper