Definition of stream in US English:



  • 1A small, narrow river.

    • ‘Yet violation of the fishing regulations was endemic on nearly all salmon rivers and streams in the three provinces.’
    • ‘Should by chance the rain keep falling (I can't remember when it last stopped!) bringing the rivers and streams into flood, then all is not lost.’
    • ‘It's also a good idea to look out for bays, islands, in-flowing streams and out-flowing rivers.’
    • ‘They nest in hardwood stands, almost always on or near rivers, streams, or other wetlands.’
    • ‘You also should plant the banks of streams, creeks and rivers with erosion-preventing vegetation.’
    • ‘Anatids inhabit aquatic habitats such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers and marshes.’
    • ‘No creeks, streams, or rivers ran through any of the study areas.’
    • ‘As we travelled to Tavistock, we crossed over flooded streams and rivers that all had plenty of colour.’
    • ‘Approximately 20 million acres of rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands could be at risk.’
    • ‘After buying a licence you have hundreds of fishable streams creeks and rivers to fish.’
    • ‘Because of tidal action, which in its own way can be a form of marine structure, bays are more akin to rivers and streams than to lakes and reservoirs.’
    • ‘Global warming could devastate lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands throughout the United States.’
    • ‘The streams and rivers offer excellent fly fishing for trout and bass; hook a smallmouth on a six weight rod and you're having fun.’
    • ‘The flow of that water - in brooks, streams, rivulets, rivers, and lakes - frames much of what makes Kentucky so lush and alluring.’
    • ‘The rivers, streams, wetlands, and coastal areas of the Great Lakes system are key, because fish and other animal species depend on them for habitat.’
    • ‘Having said that, water quality in our lowland streams and rivers is poor, which is something we are working to turn round.’
    • ‘With hundreds of colour photos and instructions on animal recognition the book is a guide to measuring the health of rivers, streams, ponds and wetlands.’
    • ‘Where the influence of a stream or river is possible, even of short duration, that hypothesis should be considered.’
    • ‘Each day's ride will leave participants breathless as they view deep gorges, whitewater rivers, cool streams, and a variety of wildlife.’
    • ‘My chosen tackle for sea trout when fishing small rivers and streams is usually a six weight rod with floating line and a nine foot leader.’
    brook, rivulet, rill, runnel, streamlet, freshet
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  • 2A continuous flow of liquid, air, or gas.

    ‘Frank blew out a stream of smoke’
    ‘the blood gushed out in scarlet streams’
    • ‘Red liquid flowed in tiny streams from his clenched fist, but he didn't seem to notice.’
    • ‘Kaia replied, a stream of tears flowing from her eyes, bright against the firelight.’
    • ‘A stream of lukewarm liquid trickled onto Ben's tongue and down his throat.’
    • ‘He noticed a stream of fresh blood flowing down the covers of the bedspread and onto the floor.’
    • ‘I managed to spit out a stream of the sanguine liquid before dodging just in time to miss her foot.’
    • ‘He then cut his arm with the knife, a stream of crimson blood flowed from his new gash.’
    • ‘A stream of water flows onto the figure's head; its shiny white beard reflects the light from the kerosene lamp.’
    • ‘A stream of liquid pours in through the broken window.’
    • ‘As the train jerked forwards it spilt a stream of its yellow liquid onto the carriage floor.’
    • ‘She points down to a stream of gasoline flowing out from underneath the car they've taken shelter behind.’
    • ‘He breathed heavily through his nose and accidentally shot a stream of liquid mucus onto the table.’
    • ‘A variation of this uses a stream of gas or liquid in the rocket nozzle to divert the exhaust flow.’
    • ‘A stream of liquid fell from her eyes and pooled at her lips.’
    • ‘There was quite a stream of water flowing down the Main Street when I came home from work.’
    • ‘It is understood a stream of air through the property produced a chimney effect, and flames quickly spread.’
    • ‘The solar wind is a stream of electrically charged particles (electrons and ions) blown constantly from the sun.’
    • ‘But as he looked up a stream of liquid came to his eyes and made them feel as if they were burning.’
    • ‘The device works by creating an electrical charge through a stream of ionized gas, or plasma.’
    • ‘The sun turns into a gigantic eye, from which flows a stream of light that illuminates the speculum of the pool.’
    • ‘I spat out a stream of the clear liquid quickly before tumbling out of the bathtub face first as I surfaced.’
    jet, flow, rush, gush, surge, spurt, spout, torrent, flood, cascade, fountain, outpouring, outflux, outflow, effusion
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    1. 2.1 A mass of people or things moving continuously in the same direction.
      ‘there is a steady stream of visitors’
      • ‘A stream of hounds flow in full cry across the field, the huntsman on foot behind.’
      • ‘He points out that the great streams of visitors to the Eternal City for the various jubilees have had a large impact on the city and its monuments.’
      • ‘Karachi became the first capital of Pakistan, struggling to find its feet and to accommodate the incoming streams of refugees.’
      • ‘Armed with a book and ostensibly reading, I had found a good vantage point, as I could monitor the streams of people from both directions.’
      • ‘Melodious tunes rang out through the day until late afternoon, entertaining streams of visitors and fellow students.’
      • ‘A stream of animals is flowing across the road, raising dust from hundreds and thousands of cloven hooves.’
      • ‘So, seized with impatience and eager to get the party started, we headed on, following the streams of people going the same direction.’
      • ‘A steady stream of visitors from the school-system hierarchy also thronged the courtroom.’
      • ‘This would enable two streams of traffic to continue in and out of the city, rather than the short-sighted solution of closure.’
      • ‘It has seen large streams of visitors since it opened and the organisers are quite pleased with their efforts this year.’
      • ‘A steady stream of them continuously marched right down the middle of the log and into Ana's precious ariat.’
      • ‘In Britain, steady streams of commuters continued to pay their respects to the victims of the London terrorist bombings.’
      • ‘Every day, streams of visitors enter to witness the markings of history.’
      • ‘Floyd said the Johnson home in Melville was still receiving streams of visitors and appealed to people to make an appointment before visiting the boy.’
      • ‘And then, in the gathering heat, we returned over country roads, avoiding the long streams of vehicles coming in for the Bank Holiday weekend.’
      • ‘They have seen streams of refugees from both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, the majority of whom they have played host to.’
      • ‘As we departed, we could see streams of people still entering the city from all directions.’
      • ‘Off to the west is what was once Legion Avenue, where steady streams of cars and trucks barrel in from the suburbs or head out to them along twin one-way roads given over entirely to traffic.’
      • ‘There was no far-off hum of constant traffic, no train whistles or car horns, and certainly no distant streams of moving lights from the nearest highway.’
      • ‘Bicycles were again in the spotlight at a local housing estate last week, which day in, day out plays host to a steady stream of fast moving traffic.’
      crowd, swarm, multitude, horde, host, mob, gang, throng, mass, body, band, troop, legion, flock, herd, pack, drove, sea, array
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    2. 2.2 A large number of things that happen or come one after the other.
      ‘a woman screamed a stream of abuse’
      • ‘They predicted that out of the tent - a temporary casino - would flow a stream of money unlike anything the destitute tribe had ever seen.’
      • ‘Stocks used to have cash flow - a stream of dividends whose regularity, growth, and quality could be assessed.’
      • ‘The notes flowed together like a stream of melody, and the tune was surprisingly more soulful than her rendition.’
      • ‘I had not expected to be defeated by the position, but the combined streams of official correspondence, enquiries from the public, club duties and organising shows were too much for me.’
      • ‘The contest for client states that reached through Africa, Asia and the Middle East produced sponsored mobs on the streets and incessant streams of competing propaganda.’
      • ‘Now I'm hugging my friends when they have good news and even cheering on bloggers I don't even know who are running into streams of great good luck.’
      • ‘The program, like electricity, is a stream of information through molecules and it flows through when the set is turned on.’
      • ‘During World War Two, Malta was blasted by steady streams of German bombs and one night during an opera performance, the building was hit.’
      • ‘Just as important, many of the big, sluggish tech companies are throwing off steady streams of cash.’
      • ‘There are, as Butcher describes it, ‘three streams of programming.’’
      • ‘It keeps everything in perspective. How can things seem important when there's streams of colour in every direction as far as the eye can see?’
      • ‘Any innocent comment that previously would go right over my head and be shrugged off will let forth a stream of abuse.’
      • ‘Such findings can inject a sense of process by seeing social life in terms of streams of interdependent events and elements.’
      • ‘Such systems coordinate, organize, and then display the myriad streams of data that managers monitor in order to make decisions.’
      • ‘Long streams of dust billowed off the purple and maroon sands, creating huge spreading lines of dust clouds which gradually attenuated until they became invisible.’
      • ‘Tight-lipped, he appeared discomfited by the questions thrown at him by Brewer, and relied on streams of impenetrable government-speak for his responses.’
      • ‘More than a fifth of the world's population seek their place in the world within a stream of history that flows from the Koran.’
      • ‘The anti-colonial movement developed great streams of Islamic, social democratic, and socialist thinking.’
      • ‘In the end, Jocelyn adds, nothing is as simple as making steady streams of 8-ft logs.’
      • ‘Here, exoinformation was a wedge used to access more direct streams of information.’
      succession, series, string, chain
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  • 3Computing
    A continuous flow of data or instructions, typically one having a constant or predictable rate.

    • ‘One possibility will be to use compilers to optimise code for a superscalar implementation instead of having the processor work out how to optimise the instruction stream.’
    • ‘The neat property of this attack is that the capacity of this storage mechanism scales at exactly the same rate as the data stream's rate does.’
    • ‘Second, there is a stream of control messages flowing back from the management applications to the agents.’
    • ‘The receiver separates the electronic program guide data from the input stream.’
    • ‘The problem is not related to a particular batch of processors, or any one instruction or data stream, Grimes said.’
    1. 3.1 A continuous flow of video and audio material transmitted or received over the Internet.
      • ‘I cannot check it as the stream is currently the live programme.’
      • ‘But this is all about making content safe, when delivered as a stream or as a file, over the internet.’
      • ‘This technique recovers the whole data stream, which is then decoded.’
      • ‘The body may be a stream of data, a container of nested parts, or an embedded message.’
      • ‘You can either listen to the stream or download the mp3.’
  • 4British A group in which schoolchildren of the same age and ability are taught; a track.

    • ‘He devoted so much time to amateur dramatics that he slipped from the top stream to the bottom and failed all bar one of his nine O-levels.’
    • ‘Those not in the A stream are taught at a different pace.’
    • ‘This means the two streams are often taught different subjects in the same room at the same time.’
    • ‘The posh lump in the top stream all had proper classical music instruments like clarinets and trumpets.’
    • ‘Instead, her IQ of 109 took her to Ryder Brow Secondary Modern, where she was in top streams despite poor attendance.’
    • ‘The reason, according to Richmond High principal Darlene Macklam, lies in the fact that not all the school's students are enrolled in the academic stream.’
    • ‘She's in the top stream at school, and her marks on tests are always great.’


  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction (of liquid) run or flow in a continuous current in a specified direction.

    ‘she sat with tears streaming down her face’
    ‘sunlight streamed through the windows’
    • ‘As the water was streaming down her dry throat, she heard the people begin to talk, though she could hear no words.’
    • ‘With the windows wide-open and natural light and fresh air streaming into the gallery space, the artworks of Mahlangu come to life.’
    • ‘I'll fix that, she smiled, breathing in the fresh air streaming in at her through the open window.’
    • ‘It hit Abbey squarely on the face and she instantly had water streaming down her face.’
    • ‘Only a few rivulets of water were streaming down its sides.’
    • ‘He was waving his arms around, trying to get used to the fact that water was streaming down his face.’
    • ‘The cold air streamed around Lily and blew into her ears.’
    • ‘A wayward droplet of water streamed down his already soaked arm.’
    • ‘Even inside she could feet its heat pressing in all around her despite the cool air streaming in from the vent.’
    • ‘I felt drenched, the water was streaming down my face, and my immaculate hair was soaked.’
    • ‘First, it was just a big block in his throat, then it turned into water streaming down his cheeks.’
    • ‘I took a step to the right to avoid the vase water streaming in my direction.’
    • ‘I stepped into the shower, the water streaming down over my body, and continued to think about everything.’
    • ‘He had just gotten in from the ocean, and water was streaming down his body, dripping onto everything in sight.’
    • ‘In spring, I can feel the currents of cool air streaming toward me carrying odors of herbs and roots.’
    • ‘Water was streaming from the pipes and the door had been blown from its hinges.’
    • ‘Ayden arrived at the hospital out of breath with water streaming down his jacket.’
    • ‘Sunlight and fresh air streamed inside and instantly she felt better.’
    • ‘He could see little droplets of tears streaming down her face.’
    • ‘Lanette nodded, salty water streaming down her cheeks.’
    flow, pour, course, run, gush, surge, spurt, flood, cascade, sluice
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    1. 1.1 (of a mass of people or things) move in a continuous flow in a specified direction.
      ‘he was watching the taxis streaming past’
      • ‘The flow of our conversation is interrupted by her friends streaming past at the end of a school day.’
      • ‘Cars weighing 4,000 lb are streaming past you at 30 mph as you stand on the curb.’
      • ‘They came streaming over the front line east from Kunduz in a cloud of dust at about 2pm local time, their vehicle lights on and horns blowing.’
      • ‘Soon a long line of tractors streamed over the lone bridge connecting Kosovo with Albania.’
      • ‘They've been streaming across the border in the tens of thousands, and there are more still coming.’
      • ‘‘I do not expect to see lines of refuges streaming to the borders,’ said Reams.’
      • ‘The news will please Ashurst and Colbury residents, who are dreading the prospect of an extra 4,000 vehicles streaming past their homes every day.’
      • ‘And they've been streaming across the border all night long.’
      • ‘They all streamed in one direction; down a wide cobblestone street lined with white, picturesque houses.’
      • ‘But it barely registered a response from the frustrated Down supporters who were already streaming out of the exits.’
      • ‘When noon arrives the room begins to fill again all through the lunch period as the players stream back in to see the results of the morning moves, and the diplomacy begins again for the next day.’
      • ‘A resounding cheer went up from the stupendous mass of people that was streaming through the gates into Hyde Park.’
      • ‘People are streaming past the windows in both directions.’
      • ‘The closing minutes and stoppage time produced much in the way of drama, albeit played out against the surreal backdrop of supporters streaming towards the exit.’
      • ‘Perhaps it's there to prove that Arabs are streaming over the borders to fight the invading force.’
      • ‘East Germans had begun streaming to the West in the late spring.’
      • ‘One of these occurred earlier this year when, at the very front of the field, gaining the crest of a hill, I caught sight of the hounds streaming up the opposite slope.’
      • ‘She described it as similar to the New York Marathon, the solid blocks of people streaming across the bridge.’
      • ‘By the time Sproule completed his hat-trick the home supporters not streaming from the exits were hurling abuse in the direction of their team.’
      • ‘But on Tuesday that site seemed perilously close, and most joined the mass of dazed refugees streaming north away from the trade center.’
      pour, surge, flood, swarm, pile, crowd, throng
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    2. 1.2 (of a person or part of the body) produce a continuous flow of liquid; run with liquid.
      ‘my eyes were streaming’
      ‘I woke up in the night, streaming with sweat’
      with object ‘his mouth was streaming blood’
      • ‘She turned her face towards her, and saw her daughter's eyes streaming with tears.’
      • ‘The University of Calgary campus this day is streaming with returning students.’
      • ‘Choking back the bile, eyes streaming with tears, I doused cotton balls and tossed them around the attic.’
      • ‘Before long, Lindsey had Kyle laughing again and made him put the thought of his mother's face streaming with tears in the back of his mind.’
      • ‘His face was streaming with tears, eyes front, watching the great man.’
      • ‘She was glaring up at him, with her green eyes still streaming with tears.’
      • ‘Jolene looked up at Todd, her eyes streaming with tears.’
      • ‘Josiah cried, his cheeks streaming with tears of laughter.’
      • ‘While thus fettered I was seized and flung down by a heavy sea which retreating suddenly left me lying naked on the sharp shingle from which I rose streaming with blood.’
      • ‘A third of the sappers and gunners were casualties, and nearly all the mules were dead or streaming with blood.’
      • ‘I looked down at my elbow and noticed it was streaming with blood.’
      • ‘Her eyes were streaming with tears and she still would not look at him.’
      • ‘Top marks to poor Frances, streaming with flu, who dragged herself through the exam.’
      • ‘I knew it was my mother before she stepped in, but what I didn't know was that her face was streaming with tears and her cheeks were all blotchy.’
      • ‘I looked forward, not realizing my face was streaming with tears until I glanced in the rear-view mirror.’
      • ‘Cool and feminine in silk and lace, or clad in casual clothes, streaming with sweat today's woman can be beautiful either way.’
      • ‘She saw a door in the distance, open and streaming with fog.’
    3. 1.3 (of hair, clothing, etc.) float or wave at full extent in the wind.
      ‘her black cloak streamed behind her’
      • ‘Dark black skirts streamed to the ground, gathering lightly on the floor.’
      • ‘Her hair streamed behind her and fanned out like a cloak and her skirts flew up around her slender legs in a tornado of color.’
      • ‘Her flowing red hair was streaming out the window, the black tips flapping in the wind.’
      • ‘The dark hair that streamed behind her as she ran seemed oddly familiar.’
      • ‘Hair streaming in the wind, cloak rippling out behind him and eyes flashing, he bore down upon the fortifications.’
      • ‘She swung towards the raucous men, her raven hair streaming behind her.’
      • ‘Master Welms smiled through his light grey eyes, young yet experienced face, and his light brown hair streaming through a soft wind.’
      • ‘Her dark hair streaming behind her, she rushed into the kitchen, grabbed a bagel and started to aggressively slice it.’
      • ‘She kept saying that the reason she fell was because she was looking up, hoping to catch sight of my wide-brimmed straw hat, with the scarf streaming from it.’
      • ‘She has been depicted as a queen or princess in the same tradition as Boadicea, her hair streaming in the wind as she rides her chariot into war.’
      • ‘Her long golden hair streamed behind her like a golden flag as they galloped across the plains.’
      • ‘The wind gently blew against her face as she kicked off, swinging into the air, leaving her loose hair streaming behind her.’
      • ‘Everyone in the dining hall watched as Nina stood from her chair and stormed off, blonde hair streaming behind her like rays of light rippling across a pond.’
      • ‘She had blonde hair streaming down to her waist and clear blue eyes.’
      • ‘Emily rolled over and stood up, raising her hands above her head, her long dark brown hair streaming down her back.’
      • ‘This young lady in her fringed green cowboy suit with boots dyed to match struck me as an image out of time, her blonde hair streaming backwards under her Stetson.’
      • ‘All of the sudden the door was flung open and Lexi burst into the room, hair streaming behind her as she raced across the room to fling her arms around me.’
      • ‘Molly ran out of the room, her pure blonde hair streaming behind her.’
      • ‘Sakura raced down the path of the park, her hair streaming like ribbons in the wind, with Sin walking slowly behind her.’
      • ‘Hannah's dark green cloak streamed out behind her as we pushed forward in the wind.’
      flutter, float, flap, fly, blow, waft
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  • 2Computing
    with object Transmit or receive (data, especially video and audio material) over the Internet as a steady, continuous flow.

    • ‘The hacker hopes his move will make content streamed to Media Player more widely available to users of alternative players on non-Windows platforms.’
    • ‘Essentially, it streams the music files on a user's hard drive out onto the Net.’
    • ‘During a ground contact event, the payload streams data in real time through a series of software pipes.’
    • ‘Lessons can be streamed in real time or recorded for later playback.’
    • ‘Data's streaming when it's moving quickly from one piece of hardware to another and doesn't have to be all in one place for the destination device to do something with it.’
    • ‘From September, teachers will be able to stream programmes to their classes from the BBC website at any point in the seven days following transmission.’
  • 3British Put (schoolchildren) in groups of the same age and ability to be taught together; track.

    • ‘There is a politically correct hostility against streaming students and against grade acceleration.’
    • ‘The expectations are further reinforced in those school systems where children are streamed by ability.’
    • ‘Most secondary schools now stream children according to their ability.’
    • ‘Each year was streamed as A, B, or C according to academic ability.’
    • ‘‘A lot of these were from schools where they had streamed them almost into a ghetto’, she explains.’
    • ‘Why should we be so dismissive of the grammar schools selection process when most schools stream students of similar ability for science, maths etc?’
    • ‘Pupils are then streamed in each subject according to their ability and aptitude.’
    • ‘I went to a Scottish school where you were still streamed according to ability to some extent’
    • ‘Donnelly, however, sees no objection to streaming students according to ability and interests, within a school or between schools.’
    • ‘At the last of six therapy sessions, Samuel had been streamed within the public school system into a program for creative children.’


  • against (or with) the stream

    • Against (or with) the prevailing view or tendency.

      ‘a world in which the demand for quality does not run against the stream’
      • ‘New Zealand will follow a contrary course and move against the stream if this legislation is passed.’
      • ‘I'm going to swim against the stream here and say I don't really understand the fuss about visual quality.’
      • ‘I had gotten to the point where I felt like I was rowing against the stream.’
      • ‘Of course, it isn't the first time that Livingstone has swum against the stream.’
      • ‘The conception that a Marxist party has to swim against the stream and to fight against the prevailing forms of consciousness is entirely anathema to them.’
      • ‘In conclusion, the challenge of the day is to go against the stream.’
      • ‘He was a quick-witted, well-meaning man who went with the stream instead of having the vision and strength of judgment to stand out against it.’
      • ‘They cannot help but drift with the stream of success-oriented culture, however unwilling they may be.’
      • ‘At times he swims against the stream, quite bravely and honestly; at other moments he goes ‘with the flow,’ reinforcing popular prejudices and even backwardness.’
      • ‘They've swum against the stream to generate and rebuild a living piece of community.’
  • on stream

    • In or into operation or existence; available.

      ‘more jobs are coming on stream’
      • ‘The petroleum company's newbuild pipelayer is expected to come on stream in the fourth quarter of this year.’
      • ‘When it came on stream in July 1997, this was the deepest production well in the world’


Old English strēam (noun), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch stroom, German Strom, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek rhein ‘to flow’.