Definition of ripple in US English:



  • 1A small wave or series of waves on the surface of water, especially as caused by an object dropping into it or a slight breeze.

    • ‘At the edge she paused, sitting with her feet dangling in the water, then she slipped gracefully down, disappearing immediately beneath the surface with barely a ripple.’
    • ‘I'm sitting next to her on the rock now, and we are both watching the water ripple in the breeze.’
    • ‘Droplets were splattering everywhere, and ripples were forming.’
    • ‘I dragged my toe across the water making ripples.’
    • ‘The ripples in the water distorted the reflection of the moon and trees.’
    • ‘The lake seemed to shimmer, ripples spreading in random places where the fish snatched bugs from the surface.’
    • ‘The lake shined in the moonlight and reflected the sights above, the water ripples breaking up the starshine into tiny dancing lights.’
    • ‘I watched as a group of kids were running around and splashing in the water, creating ripples over its cool and smooth surface.’
    • ‘He flicked a stray pebble with his toe into the water, the ripples expanding as far as the jetty.’
    • ‘Only the lightest of ripples formed from her interaction with the river.’
    • ‘I walked to the end by the ladder, turned around ran and jumped off the front end of the boat doing a perfect dive into the calm water, sending ripples everywhere.’
    • ‘She threw tiny stones in the water creating a number of ripples on the surface.’
    • ‘Feeling the need to vent his anger, Shane threw a stone into the little pond at Central Park, causing a series of violent ripples in the water that was before so calm.’
    • ‘She lightly touched the water and watched the ripples slowly spread out.’
    • ‘You look over the side of the deck and see smooth flowing waves, and the rain leaving ripples in the water.’
    • ‘They weren't sure what the girl would do, but instead of approaching them, she turned and ran, leaving small ripples in the water.’
    • ‘Tiffany put her hand in the water and began causing ripples on the water surface.’
    • ‘The tide was coming in in gentle waves, raindrops making ripples in the grey-blue water and causing circular patterns in the sand.’
    • ‘The water sparkled a deep blue, and the wind blowing softly made the water ripple gently in the breeze.’
    • ‘Ponds and lakes reflect the scenery above them, with gentle ripples swaying on their surface.’
    wavelet, wave, undulation, ripplet, ridge, crease, wrinkle, ruffle, pucker
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A thing resembling a ripple or ripples in appearance or movement.
      ‘the sand undulated and was ridged with ripples’
      • ‘The curve is nice and flat without ripples, dips or speed bumps, just the way you want a response curve to look.’
      • ‘Sufficiently long that it can't be seen in a glance, the work ripples along the wall like wind through a field of grain.’
      • ‘She studied the smooth ripples, as they formed with each movement of her feet.’
      • ‘The fans seemed vocal for both bands at this particular show, but with little more than a small ripple of movement every now and then, this night left much to be desired.’
      • ‘A few people gasped as it bounced away harmlessly, sending ripples throughout the force field that was protecting them.’
      • ‘She groaned, the sound of her own voice sending ripples of pain through her own head.’
      • ‘The ripples of his muscles could show through the tight outfit that he wore.’
      • ‘I watched the ripples of his muscle and the glint of the sun on this hair.’
      • ‘A wreath of ivy encircled his head, and his hair fell in ripples to his shoulders.’
      • ‘Burrows, mudstone clasts and symmetric, wave ripples are locally present.’
      • ‘A ripple of movement across the surface of the mirror caught Steffen's attention.’
      • ‘The soft night wind made gentle ripples in his dark hair; his pale green eyes had become a deep emerald, reflecting the soft glow of the moon.’
    2. 1.2 A gentle rising and falling sound, especially of laughter or conversation, that spreads through a group of people.
      ‘a ripple of laughter ran around the room’
      • ‘Today's results, which came in at the top end of expectations, were given a gentle ripple of applause with the shares moving some 3% higher.’
      • ‘Philip's statement brought a ripple of laughter from the crowd of assembled contestants gathered around the archery range.’
      • ‘But a soft ripple of laughter emerges from the other young woman in the room, who's been standing and admiring her image in the tall mirror by the dresser.’
      • ‘Ryan Robertson piped in as he shrugged his jersey over his shoulders, his comment causing a ripple of laughter throughout the locker room.’
      • ‘There was a ripple of laughter among the men and she quickly smiled and gave a small laugh as if it was a joke.’
      • ‘A quiet ripple of laughter murmured through the pub.’
      • ‘Conversation around the tavern died, ripples of silence spreading around the room as they saw us, saw me.’
      • ‘Ian thought he heard a murmur ripple through the crowd, and glanced quickly over his shoulder.’
      • ‘A ripple of laughter swept through the crowd and it seemed as though Andrew was not as popular as he appeared to believe.’
      • ‘A ripple of ironic laughter travelled through the crew.’
      • ‘A ripple of nervous laughter ran through the crowd.’
      • ‘A crescendo rises and threatens to explode, but vanishes, leaving all but a ripple of sound.’
      • ‘The hubbub subsided into a low ripple of murmurs.’
      • ‘A ripple of laughter echoed through the chilly room.’
      • ‘A gong rang, and the ripples of sound faded into silence.’
      • ‘This time she heard a ripple of chatter spread throughout the crowd as they realised what she had just said.’
      • ‘His friends hear and a ripple of laughter spreads through them.’
      • ‘A ripple of laughter passed through the audience, mostly from the men.’
      • ‘I heard ripples of laughter behind me; they were pleased I was putting up a fight instead of going quietly.’
      • ‘The movement brought a ripple of laughter from the audience.’
    3. 1.3 A particular feeling or effect that spreads through someone or something.
      ‘his words set off a ripple of excitement within her’
      • ‘The very name of the famous Gloucester racecourse is enough to send ripples of excitement through any seasoned racing supporter.’
      • ‘The biplane had arrived in town three days earlier - the first aeroplane to fly into New Plymouth - creating a ripple of excitement’
      • ‘Fitz, who had been feeling the pinch of loneliness himself, even though he made regular trips to the village and was used to being alone, felt a ripple of pleasure at the thought of company nearby.’
      • ‘A government-constituted citizen-led feedback group caused ripples last year by listing dubious electoral and political practices.’
      • ‘The War also created economic and ideological ripples which spread across the whole world.’
      • ‘There are some events in history that impact the world so hard their ripples spread out through years and decades.’
      • ‘Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.’
      • ‘The sudden forcing noise as he pushed the sticking window open caused a ripple of excitement to quickly spread through the crowd below.’
      • ‘The announcement sent ripples of anxiety through the tech world.’
      • ‘For a moment I let myself enjoy the cool ripples of relief spreading over me.’
      • ‘After 40 minutes I'm sure I detected a ripple of discontent.’
      • ‘What started as a schoolgirl rebellion against Japan's rigid conformity is now causing ripples of admiration from the beau monde of international fashion.’
      • ‘Produced in 1964, the film created ripples at the Cannes festival that year.’
      • ‘I vaguely here my mind wondering, I feel a ripple of excitement spread through my body, as I relive old movie scenes where moments like this turned out for the best.’
      • ‘His words created ripples of awe among the Senators, but none dare defy his decision.’
      • ‘I turned to look at who it was and felt a ripple of fear rush through me.’
      • ‘A limited edition of 1,000 lithographs on sale at the Belgravia Gallery in London is causing ripples in artistic circles.’
      • ‘And now… now the thought of losing her is sending ripples of fear through him.’
    4. 1.4Physics A wave on a fluid surface, the restoring force for which is provided by surface tension rather than gravity, and which consequently has a wavelength shorter than that corresponding to the minimum speed of propagation.
    5. 1.5 Small periodic, usually undesirable, variations in electrical voltage superposed on a direct voltage or on an alternating voltage of lower frequency.
  • 2A type of ice cream with wavy lines of colored flavored syrup running through it.

    ‘raspberry ripple’
    • ‘It was chocolate ripple it was Chris's favorite.’
    • ‘Plain vanilla, chocolate and raspberry ripple will soon be history.’
    • ‘Totally embarrassed, Sara realized that there was a considerable amount of ice cream on her chin, mostly raspberry fudge ripple.’
    • ‘You spend another £10.00 on a programme and a small tub of organic raspberry ripple ice cream.’
    • ‘Japanese ice-cream lovers have swapped traditional flavours such as raspberry ripple for something a little more exotic.’


[no object]
  • 1(of water) form or flow with a series of small waves on the surface.

    ‘the Mediterranean rippled and sparkled’
    • ‘The cold waters rippled in small waves; splashing onto the bank.’
    • ‘He let himself get closer to the water, watching the waterfall's little waves rippling over the surface of the cool, deep pool.’
    • ‘You could hear the sounds of the water slapping as it rippled on the shore.’
    • ‘At first, the water only rippled like it would in a breeze.’
    • ‘The water was deep blue, and the water was very calm, rippling slightly in a gentle breeze.’
    • ‘There was a biting wind skimming the gently rippling surface of the cold shore.’
    • ‘The water rippled and larger waves came to the surface.’
    • ‘The trees and bushes around her began to rustle and the water began to ripple again, like some unseen being was swimming.’
    • ‘The water was rippling from the wind, and leaves being strewn into the small waves.’
    • ‘The surrounding lush green landscape is reflected in the water, which ripples gently as I float along it.’
    • ‘Slowly, the ship coasted forwards, the water rippling gently around the bow.’
    • ‘The cool water rippled over his skin, and he broke to the surface as quietly as he could.’
    • ‘I gazed across the smooth rippling sea, aching in every part of me to be able to swim in it again.’
    • ‘Amy approached the glassy water, rippling with the waterfall's motion.’
    • ‘The water rippled where she stood, and she enjoyed the coolness before completely submerging herself.’
    form ripples, form ripples on, flow in wavelets, undulate, popple, lap, purl, babble
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    1. 1.1with object Cause (the surface of water) to form small waves.
      ‘a cool wind rippled the surface of the estuary’
      • ‘But in the water nearby, a leaf fell to the surface, rippling it, and a gentile breeze blew.’
      • ‘She tossed her golden hair gently behind her shoulder, and reached down to ripple the cool water's surface.’
      • ‘As soon as the first breath of wind rippled the ocean about them, the sail was unfurled and everyone aboard had a purpose again.’
      • ‘She continued walking down towards the boating pond in the centre of the park and looked out across the water, now rippled by a hundred raindrops.’
      • ‘Some swans fluttered down and rippled the water.’
      • ‘If you must ripple the pond, throw a small rock first and pay careful attention.’
      • ‘She exhaled in a great rush, rippling the water's surface, and reached for the soaps and scented oils her maids had left her.’
      • ‘A thin wind rippled the puddles of dirty water among the cobblestones.’
      • ‘A huge gust of wind surrounded her, waving the branches of the trees, and rippling the water.’
      • ‘Far below him, the wind rippled the smooth surface of the lake.’
    2. 1.2no object Move in a way resembling a series of small waves.
      ‘fields of grain rippling in the wind’
      • ‘A window lay open, and the curtain rippled gently in the night wind.’
      • ‘The ground looked solid enough, and didn't ripple when he moved, and basically did not seem like it should be pulling him under.’
      • ‘She ran down the steps into the main hall, her dress rippling behind her like waves as she descended the stairs.’
      • ‘She watched the girl turn and walk away her skirt rippling around her like water, and suddenly she wished she'd asked for her name.’
      • ‘Summer sun is reflected upwards from the water to ripple on walls and ceiling of the long space.’
      • ‘Her eyes glowed like sapphires and her hair rippled in the summer breeze.’
      • ‘He saw the wind ripple the leaves in the vineyards.’
      • ‘Standing on the crest of the hill, illuminated against the morning sun, was a figure clothed in rippling blue-silver robes.’
      • ‘The wind rippled the sea of tall grass and grazed the two figures standing in the hills.’
      • ‘I could see the muscles rippling under his white T-shirt and could tell he was preping for a fight.’
      • ‘The horse's muscles rippled with each bounding move it took forward, and it snorted as it breathed heavily.’
      • ‘Without a shirt on, his muscles rippled with every move.’
      • ‘The lava rippled around them and began to toss and shoot in all directions.’
      • ‘He gestured elegantly at the door, his velvet coat rippling out behind him.’
      • ‘I could feel his muscles rippling beneath his tight shirt.’
      • ‘The wheat rippling in the sun waved at me in unison.’
      • ‘His horse was a of fine chestnut, with muscles rippling in its legs.’
      • ‘A light wind swept over the shoreline, rippling Tilly's hair gently in the breeze as she sat cross legged on the ground, staring out over the sea.’
      • ‘He had a flat stomach, the skin flawless and muscles rippling under as he moved to pull a shirt over his head.’
      flutter, undulate, stir, flap, sway, swing, waft, shake, quiver, oscillate, move
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 (of a sound or feeling) spread through a person, group, or place.
      ‘applause rippled around the tables’
      • ‘A good-natured chuckle rippled around the group.’
      • ‘A murmur rippled through the crowd for a few moments.’
      • ‘Angry murmurs rippled through the assembled crowd - this was not what they had come to see.’
      • ‘Jade opened her mouth to retort, but the sound of a bell interrupted her, sending panic rippling through her.’
      • ‘I wonder if he can sense the emotion rippling through me.’
      • ‘The sound of explosions rippling across the city reached his ears as he lay awake in bed.’
      • ‘An ominous murmur rippled through the crowd and many turned to examine their neighbors.’
      • ‘A slight murmur of laughter rippled through them.’
      • ‘The disturbing sound rippled throughout the room and sent a chill running down his spine.’
      • ‘Astonished murmurs rippled through the gathered girls.’
      • ‘Laughter rippled through the group, relieving much of the tension that had built up.’
      • ‘A murmur of excitement rippled around the assembly-hall.’
      • ‘Astonishment rippled through the assembled recruits.’
      • ‘A ripple of nervous laughter rippled through the room, and he held his goblet up in a toast.’
      • ‘Quiet laughter rippled across the room, but soon died down into silence.’
      • ‘Mutterings rippled around the room about how all refugees should be taken in, but the squadron leader shook his head sombrely.’
      • ‘The children's cries ripple through the orphanage.’
      • ‘The priest chuckled and the laughter rippled outward through the building.’
      • ‘A low murmur of disapproval rippled throughout the audience.’
      • ‘A brief murmur rippled through the assembly of firefighters only to be silenced by a gavel banging.’
    4. 1.4as adjective rippled Having the appearance of small waves.
      ‘a broad noodle, rippled on both sides, wider than fettuccine’
      • ‘Sometimes the slightly rippled water casts strange abstract patterns of light on the ceilings above.’
      • ‘I screamed, stumbling to the tiny rippled window beside the bathtub.’
      • ‘His shirt was unbuttoned, revealing a set of firm, rippled abs.’


Late 17th century (as a verb): of unknown origin.