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See more synonyms for trickle on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), trick·led, trick·ling.
  1. to flow or fall by drops, or in a small, gentle stream: Tears trickled down her cheeks.
  2. to come, go, or pass bit by bit, slowly, or irregularly: The guests trickled out of the room.
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verb (used with object), trick·led, trick·ling.
  1. to cause to trickle.
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  1. a trickling flow or stream.
  2. a small, slow, or irregular quantity of anything coming, going, or proceeding: a trickle of visitors throughout the day.
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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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for trickling

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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

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


    Emile Zola

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

British Dictionary definitions for trickling


  1. to run or cause to run in thin or slow streamsshe trickled the sand through her fingers
  2. (intr) to move, go, or pass graduallythe crowd trickled away
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  1. a thin, irregular, or slow flow of something
  2. the act of trickling
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Derived Formstrickling, adjectivetricklingly, adverbtrickly, adjective

Word Origin

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.

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1570s, from trickle (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper