See more synonyms for stream on
  1. a body of water flowing in a channel or watercourse, as a river, rivulet, or brook.
  2. a steady current in water, as in a river or the ocean: to row against the stream; the Gulf Stream.
  3. any flow of water or other liquid or fluid: streams of blood.
  4. a current or flow of air, gas, or the like.
  5. a beam or trail of light: A stream of moonlight fell from the clouds.
  6. a continuous flow or succession of anything: a stream of words.
  7. prevailing direction; drift: the stream of opinion.
  8. Digital Technology. a flow of data, as an audio broadcast, a movie, or live video, transmitted smoothly and continuously from a source to a computer, mobile device, etc.
verb (used without object)
  1. to flow, pass, or issue in a stream, as water, tears, or blood.
  2. to send forth or throw off a stream; run or flow (often followed by with): eyes streaming with tears.
  3. to extend in a beam or in rays, as light: Sunlight streamed in through the windows.
  4. to move or proceed continuously like a flowing stream, as a procession.
  5. to wave or float outward, as a flag in the wind.
  6. to hang in a loose, flowing manner, as long hair.
verb (used with object)
  1. to send forth or discharge in a stream: The wound streamed blood.
  2. to cause to stream or float outward, as a flag.
  3. Digital Technology. to transfer or transmit (data) in such a way that it is processed in a steady and continuous stream: Internet service providers are talking about setting limits on the amount of data that can be streamed into your home.
  4. Nautical. to place (an object) in the water at the end of a line attached to a vessel.
  1. on stream, in or into operation: The factory will be on stream in a month.

Origin of stream

before 900; (noun) Middle English streem, Old English strēam; cognate with German Strom, Old Norse straumr; akin to Greek rheîn to flow (see rheum); (v.) Middle English streamen, derivative of the noun
Related formsstream·less, adjectivestream·like, adjectivein·ter·stream, adjectiveout·stream, verb (used with object)un·der·stream, noun
Can be confusedbrook creek river stream

Synonym study

Stream, current refer to a steady flow. In this use they are interchangeable. In the sense of running water, however, a stream is a flow that may be as small as a brook or as large as a river: A number of streams have their sources in mountains. Current refers to the most rapidly moving part of the stream: This river has a swift current. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for stream

Contemporary Examples of stream

Historical Examples of stream

  • A stream of water, pure as crystal, flowed along the path, from the summit to the base.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • There's one about a quarter of a mile down the stream—Stetson's boat.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Thoughts of crossing the stream by swimming occurred to him.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • They were on the bank of a stream of some width, and apparently a deep and rapid one.

  • Halbert looked after him, enviously, as he rowed the boat out into the stream.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for stream


  1. a small river; brook
  2. any steady flow of water or other fluid
  3. something that resembles a stream in moving continuously in a line or particular direction
  4. a rapid or unbroken flow of speech, etca stream of abuse
  5. a flow of money into a businessa revenue stream
  6. British any of several parallel classes of schoolchildren, or divisions of children within a class, grouped together because of similar ability
  7. go with the stream or drift with the stream to conform to the accepted standards
  8. off stream (of an industrial plant, manufacturing process, etc) shut down or not in production
  9. on stream
    1. (of an industrial plant, manufacturing process, etc) in or about to go into operation or production
    2. available or in existence
  1. to emit or be emitted in a continuous flowhis nose streamed blood
  2. (intr) to move in unbroken succession, as a crowd of people, vehicles, etc
  3. (intr) to float freely or with a waving motionbunting streamed in the wind
  4. (tr) to unfurl (a flag, etc)
  5. (intr) to move causing a trail of light, condensed gas, etc, as a jet aircraft
  6. (when intr, often foll by for) mining to wash (earth, gravel, etc) in running water in prospecting (for gold, etc), to expose the particles of ore or metal
  7. British education to group or divide (children) in streams
Derived Formsstreamlet, nounstreamlike, adjective

Word Origin for stream

Old English; related to Old Frisian strām, Old Norse straumr, Old High German stroum, Greek rheuma
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 stream

Old English stream "a course of water," from Proto-Germanic *straumaz (cf. Old Saxon strom, Old Norse straumr, Danish strøm, Swedish ström, Norwegian straum, Old Frisian stram, Dutch stroom, Old High German stroum, German Strom "current, river"), from PIE root *sreu- "flow" (see rheum). Meaning "current in the sea" (e.g. Gulf Stream) is recorded from late 14c. Stream of consciousness in lit crit first recorded 1931, originally in psychology (1855).


early 13c., from stream (n.). Related: Streamed; streaming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

stream in Science


  1. A flow of water in a channel or bed, as a brook, rivulet, or small river.
  2. A flow of a watery substance, such as blood in blood vessels or cytoplasm in fungal hyphae, in an organism or in part of an organism.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with stream


see change horses in midstream; swim against the current (stream).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.