Definition of percolate in US English:



  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction (of a liquid or gas) filter gradually through a porous surface or substance.

    ‘the water percolating through the soil may leach out minerals’
    • ‘The rover recently examined a rock named ‘Wishstone,’ which contains significant deposits of phosphorous that may have been left behind from water percolating up through the Martian surface.’
    • ‘So those could be living down the cracks underneath the surface but the gasses will still percolate upwards.’
    • ‘As an added precaution, I also constructed plastic-lined and rock-filled drainage ditches on the surface to prevent water from percolating down from the surface.’
    • ‘But the Wekiva watershed - and its springshed, the area where surface water percolates into the aquifer and recharges the springs - is hardly pristine.’
    • ‘Over time, the saved water percolated upward through capillary action toward plants' thirsty roots.’
    • ‘Water then percolates into the cracks, and the cycle repeats itself.’
    • ‘The only vehicle to get air into soil is water, which percolates through the soil profile, displacing carbon dioxide and pulling air into the vacuum.’
    • ‘The hematite could have formed from iron-rich materials in the original layers of sediment, or it could have been deposited from iron-rich water percolating through the sediments.’
    • ‘Water would naturally percolate through the rocks, and this would speed up the cooling of the pluton.’
    • ‘To this day, the web of living things filters our water as it percolates through soil.’
    • ‘These deposits represent enrichments of ore minerals caused by surface waters that percolate downwards through an existing sulphide-rich orebody.’
    • ‘You also have a natural filtration process as the water will percolate down through the ground and the ground will filter the water naturally.’
    • ‘The sand in the Marietta preserve overlies an ancient soil surface so hard and dense that water cannot percolate through it.’
    • ‘Water will percolate down through the soil/trash mixture and collect in the bottom.’
    • ‘Variable preservation suggests that some of the pollen may have been redeposited, possibly by water percolating through layers during summer melting.’
    • ‘With water percolating upwards hundreds of feet from its leaks it has created wetlands and damp areas in the upstate Ulster and Orange counties that endure even in the region's worst drought.’
    • ‘He recently dug a trench that revealed high levels of magnesium and sulfur, suggesting water once percolated through the soil and evaporated leaving salts.’
    • ‘Runoff from steep ice-cliffs, or through subglacial flow driven by water percolating through pores or fractures, will convert a high fraction of melting into ablation.’
    • ‘Its summer melt area is increasing: fresh water's percolating down to the base of the glaciers and lubricating the base and its ice shelves are becoming unstable.’
    • ‘It's a process of alteration of this ash as the water percolates through.’
    filter, drain, drip, ooze, seep, trickle, dribble, strain, leak, leach
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    1. 1.1 (of information or an idea or feeling) spread gradually through an area or group of people.
      ‘this issue has percolated into the public consciousness’
      • ‘Inevitably ideas percolate from one religion to another.’
      • ‘Isn't it true there is no freedom of the press, without which good ideas do not percolate well?’
      • ‘I hope to visit some of these ideas that are now percolating with regard to the worship experiences of today.’
      • ‘They did badly, in part, because much of this growth did not percolate into the rural areas.’
      • ‘The vast corpus of religious literature in regional languages which has not been adequately studied can provide interesting insights into how religious ideas percolated into different strata of society.’
      spread, be disseminated, filter, pass, go
      View synonyms
  • 2no object (of coffee) be prepared in a percolator.

    ‘he put some coffee on to percolate’
    • ‘Even today I can still recall the aroma of bacon cooking and coffee percolating on the woodstove while my mother started breakfast.’
    • ‘In the not too distant future this will be estate agents’ recommended background music while the bread bakes and the coffee percolates.’
    • ‘I looked over at the coffee pot, which had been done percolating for a good fifteen minutes.’
    • ‘The waiter duly brought the coffee which had obviously been percolating away for about six months, freshly-brewed being a relative term.’
    • ‘Then we learnt how coffee was harvested, roasted, percolated, espressed and consumed.’
    • ‘Around the world java percolates and teabags simmer in millions of homes each morning.’
    • ‘The kitchen smelled of cookies or whatever my Aunt Renee was finishing up for our desserts, and fresh coffee percolating.’
    1. 2.1with object Prepare (coffee) in a percolator.
      ‘freshly percolated coffee’
      • ‘He paused as he sniffed the air and glanced over at the coffee pot percolating java on the counter.’
      • ‘A mango sorbet served with a very fruity Sauternes closes the dinner, and we retire to the lounge in various degrees of inebriation, drinking beautifully roasted and percolated coffee, while the chefs pack up in the kitchen.’
      • ‘It promises to produce everything from the waft of freshly baked chocolate cookies to percolating coffee over a personal computer.’
      • ‘Fortunately, percolated coffee came with milk.’
      • ‘This, of course, is the sound of indie films, sometimes as if from the bottom of a well, rarely the crisp, percolating coffee and microwave beep of a Hollywood kitchen.’
      • ‘A coffee percolating machine was bubbling in the corner, making the room smell welcoming.’
    2. 2.2US Be or become full of lively activity or excitement.
      ‘the night was percolating with an expectant energy’
      • ‘The reception area percolates with noise from clients and children as most of them cool off on the gracious leather furniture that flanks the big-screen TV.’
      • ‘Thanks to new arts complexes sprouting like mushrooms across the map, the global dance village percolates with activity.’
      • ‘Despite the fact that tourism countrywide was down as much as 50 percent, the Khumbu still percolated with activity.’
      • ‘Mars certainly has your brain percolating with wild ideas and far-fetched fancies, but isn't it weird how nobody wants to know about anything out of the ordinary right now?’


Early 17th century: from Latin percolat- ‘strained through’, from the verb percolare, from per- ‘through’ + colare ‘to strain’ (from colum ‘strainer’).