verb (used without object), trick·led, trick·ling.

to flow or fall by drops, or in a small, gentle stream: Tears trickled down her cheeks.
to come, go, or pass bit by bit, slowly, or irregularly: The guests trickled out of the room.

verb (used with object), trick·led, trick·ling.

to cause to trickle.


a trickling flow or stream.
a small, slow, or irregular quantity of anything coming, going, or proceeding: a trickle of visitors throughout the day.

Origin of trickle

1325–75; Middle English triklen, trekelen (v.), apparently sandhi variant of strikle, perhaps equivalent to strike (in obsolete sense “flow”) + -le
Related formstrick·ling·ly, adverb

Synonyms for trickle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for trickle

Contemporary Examples of trickle

Historical Examples of trickle

  • The huge still continued to trickle forth its alcoholic sweat.


    Emile Zola

  • There was a trickle of water down the quarsteel he was leaning against!

    Under Arctic Ice

    H.G. Winter

  • If this is a trickle then Noah's flood couldn't have been more than a splash.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • In Fig. 151, an example of connections for a "Trickle" charge is given.

  • The sweat was beginning to trickle in the hair of the fat cattle.

    Dwellers in the Hills

    Melville Davisson Post

British Dictionary definitions for trickle



to run or cause to run in thin or slow streamsshe trickled the sand through her fingers
(intr) to move, go, or pass graduallythe crowd trickled away


a thin, irregular, or slow flow of something
the act of trickling
Derived Formstrickling, adjectivetricklingly, adverbtrickly, adjective

Word Origin for trickle

C14: perhaps of imitative origin
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 trickle

late 14c., possibly a shortened variant of stricklen "to trickle," a frequentative form of striken "to flow, move" (see strike). Related: Trickled; trickling. Trickle-down as an adjectival phrase in an economic sense first recorded 1944; the image had been in use at least since Teddy Roosevelt.


1570s, from trickle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper