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

Related Words for trickling

stream, seep, leak, flow, ooze, percolate, crawl, dribble, creep, issue, drop, drip, distill, weep, exude, trill

Examples from the Web for trickling

Contemporary Examples of trickling

Historical Examples of trickling

  • At its highest speed this ticking changed into a continuous sound of trickling.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • At that moment a trickling thrill went through the American.

  • The trickling process only lasted until the front door was gained.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • In the middle of it some water was trickling from a couple of taps in the dim gloom.

  • But now she raised her face, down which two big tears were trickling.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for trickling



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 trickling



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