a small quantity or number scattered here and there.
a small quantity sprinkled or to be sprinkled.

Origin of sprinkling

First recorded in 1400–50, sprinkling is from the late Middle English word sprenclyng. See sprinkle, -ing1
Related formssprin·kling·ly, adverb

Synonyms for sprinkling



verb (used with object), sprin·kled, sprin·kling.

to scatter (a liquid, powder, etc.) in drops or particles: She sprinkled powder on the baby.
to disperse or distribute here and there.
to overspread with drops or particles of water, powder, or the like: to sprinkle a lawn.
to diversify or intersperse with objects scattered here and there.

verb (used without object), sprin·kled, sprin·kling.

to scatter or disperse liquid, a powder, etc., in drops or particles.
to be sprinkled.
to rain slightly (often used impersonally with it as subject): It may sprinkle this evening.


the act or an instance of sprinkling.
something used for sprinkling.
Usually sprinkles. small particles of chocolate, candy, sugar, etc., used as a decorative topping for cookies, cakes, ice-cream cones, and the like.
a light rain.
a small quantity or number.

Origin of sprinkle

1350–1400; Middle English sprenklen (v.); cognate with Dutch sprenkelen, German sprenkeln; akin to Old English sprengan to sprinkle, make (something) spring, scatter, causative of springan to spring
Related formsin·ter·sprin·kle, verb (used with object), in·ter·sprin·kled, in·ter·sprin·kling.pre·sprin·kle, verb (used with object), pre·sprin·kled, pre·sprin·kling.re·sprin·kle, verb, re·sprin·kled, re·sprin·kling.un·sprin·kled, adjective

Synonyms for sprinkle

1. distribute, rain. Sprinkle, scatter, strew mean to fling, spread, or disperse. To sprinkle means to fling about small drops or particles: to sprinkle water on clothes, powder on plants. To scatter is to disperse or spread widely: to scatter seeds. To strew is to scatter, especially in such a way as to cover or partially cover a surface: to strew flowers on a grave.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sprinkling

Contemporary Examples of sprinkling

Historical Examples of sprinkling

  • At present there is but a sprinkling of Protestants in Millau.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • But the sprinkling was a swarm in the Twickenham cottage, and filled it.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • A young but severe-looking Socitaire was sprinkling her with drops of water.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • They were there almost over our heads, sprinkling us with their blue, pink, and mauve drops.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Only a sprinkling of pin-points of light marked Porno to the eye.

    The Bluff of the Hawk

    Anthony Gilmore

British Dictionary definitions for sprinkling



a small quantity or amounta sprinkling of commonsense



to scatter (liquid, powder, etc) in tiny particles or droplets over (something)
(tr) to distribute over (something)the field was sprinkled with flowers
(intr) to drizzle slightly


the act or an instance of sprinkling or a quantity that is sprinkled
a slight drizzle

Word Origin for sprinkle

C14: probably from Middle Dutch sprenkelen; related to Old English spearca spark 1
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 sprinkling

"small amount," 1590s, verbal noun from sprinkle (v.).



late 14c. (implied in sprinkled), frequentative of sprenge (see spring (v.)) or via Middle Dutch, Middle Low German sprenkel "spot, speck," from PIE root *(s)preg- "to jerk, scatter" (cf. Latin spargere "to scatter, sprinkle"). The meaning "rain lightly" is first recorded 1778. Related: Sprinkling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper