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’
    • ‘These deposits represent enrichments of ore minerals caused by surface waters that percolate downwards through an existing sulphide-rich orebody.’
    • ‘He recently dug a trench that revealed high levels of magnesium and sulfur, suggesting water once percolated through the soil and evaporated leaving salts.’
    • ‘The sand in the Marietta preserve overlies an ancient soil surface so hard and dense that water cannot percolate through it.’
    • ‘It's a process of alteration of this ash as the water percolates through.’
    • ‘Water would naturally percolate through the rocks, and this would speed up the cooling of the pluton.’
    • ‘Over time, the saved water percolated upward through capillary action toward plants' thirsty roots.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Variable preservation suggests that some of the pollen may have been redeposited, possibly by water percolating through layers during summer melting.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To this day, the web of living things filters our water as it percolates through soil.’
    • ‘You also have a natural filtration process as the water will percolate down through the ground and the ground will filter the water naturally.’
    • ‘Water will percolate down through the soil/trash mixture and collect in the bottom.’
    • ‘Water then percolates into the cracks, and the cycle repeats itself.’
    • ‘But the Wekiva watershed - and its springshed, the area where surface water percolates into the aquifer and recharges the springs - is hardly pristine.’
    • ‘So those could be living down the cracks underneath the surface but the gasses will still percolate upwards.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘They did badly, in part, because much of this growth did not percolate into the rural areas.’
      • ‘Inevitably ideas percolate from one religion to another.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      spread, be disseminated, filter, pass, go
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  • 2no object (of coffee) be prepared in a percolator.

    ‘he put some coffee on to percolate’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.
      ‘it will have to be instant coffee—there's no time to percolate any’
      • ‘It promises to produce everything from the waft of freshly baked chocolate cookies to percolating coffee over a personal computer.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A coffee percolating machine was bubbling in the corner, making the room smell welcoming.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Fortunately, percolated coffee came with milk.’
      • ‘He paused as he sniffed the air and glanced over at the coffee pot percolating java on the counter.’
    2. 2.2US Be or become full of lively activity or excitement.
      ‘the night was percolating with an expectant energy’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Thanks to new arts complexes sprouting like mushrooms across the map, the global dance village percolates with activity.’
      • ‘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.’


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