Definition of trickle in English:



  • 1 (of a liquid) flow in a small stream.

    ‘a solitary tear trickled down her cheek’
    ‘a trickling brook’
    • ‘Black cherry stained liquid trickled out from the folds of canvas.’
    • ‘That night they found a small stream with fresh, clean, water trickling toward the ocean to their right.’
    • ‘Water will trickle audibly here and there, and there'll be the gentle swish of bamboo and tall grasses.’
    • ‘Diners encounter a massive smooth slab of onyx, backlit with water trickling behind it, when they enter the restaurant, and are welcomed by polite and attentive waiters.’
    • ‘The microbes convert the hydrogen sulfide into odorless hydrogen sulfate, which is carried away by water trickling over the foam.’
    • ‘Water is trickling over pale, crusty rocks into clear, tiny pools.’
    • ‘Then, he just sat there, staring at the water trickling out of the fountain.’
    • ‘Through a hole pierced in the centre of the sheet, water would trickle into the vessel kept beneath it.’
    • ‘Soon a sweet purple liquid was trickling out of the spout into the container she had placed underneath.’
    • ‘We were shown into a smart little auditorium where big speakers were pumping out relaxing little sounds of birds chirping and water trickling.’
    • ‘This was a beautiful piece of work where one could almost hear the water trickling over the flagstones.’
    • ‘These rocks cause the steam to condense and the water trickles into a clay channel and receptacle, where it collects and cools.’
    • ‘He coughed fitfully and held his heaving chest as dark liquid trickled out of his mouth.’
    • ‘Warm liquid trickled from separate areas on her face.’
    • ‘The water trickling from the mine has a pH of about 0.8 and a temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit.’
    • ‘It was one of those units where the water trickles over an electric coil to heat it up.’
    • ‘He felt water trickling inside the box, and realized that the casket was leaking slightly.’
    • ‘If your position is correct, water will trickle out your left nostril.’
    • ‘Our bodies, faces, and hair drip with rain water trickling to the ground.’
    • ‘Even there, in too many of the pipes, the water trickles out so feebly as to be useless.’
    drip, dribble, drizzle, flow, run, spill
    ooze, leak, seep, exude, percolate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object]Cause (a liquid) to flow in a small stream.
      ‘he trickled the vodka onto the rocks’
      • ‘The keeper was slow to retreat as his opposite number, Scott Howie, cleared, and substitute Jody Banim trickled the ball into the empty net from 45 yards via a deflection off Durkin.’
      • ‘If I weren't already sweating, I'd be trickling some now.’
      • ‘Gas emissions and volcanic tremors have been high for months and the volcano has expelled boulders and trickled lava in recent weeks.’
      • ‘Should she just leave him there, trickling blood on the carpet?’
      • ‘For some reason, which no one can prove to my knowledge, when black powder is trickled into the cartridge case through a drop tube it burns more cleanly.’
      • ‘She trickled the acid over the body, focusing mostly on his face, and hands, though the packet held enough to dissolve most of the entire body.’
      • ‘I slid onto a chair next to his and pushed the glass nearer to him with two paracetamol tablets and trickled my fingers through his scruffy hair playfully.’
      • ‘She let out the tiniest bit of pressure and power, sending him shattering out of her mind as his nose trickled blood.’
      • ‘Pushing the ‘dispense’ button automatically trickles the desired charge weight into the scale pan.’
      • ‘Her cheeks were covered in tiny scrapes and a larger wound was already trickling a small stream of crimson blood down the middle of her forehead.’
      • ‘By the end of the game, he looked the part with stitches closing two gashes over the bridge of his nose and another cut on the corner of his eye still trickling blood.’
      • ‘I didn't answer her, just kept scrubbing the toilet clean while Colleen trickled Visine into her eyes.’
      • ‘Here he is seen comforted by stablemates while the cut above his left eye trickles blood from jostling with the crowd.’
      • ‘Fold the pancake neatly into a triangle, place on a plate, trickle the sauce around the pancake and serve immediately.’
      • ‘Without hesitation, he brought the canteen to Joe's lips and trickled some water into his son's mouth.’
      • ‘Small amounts of oxygen are trickled through the fermentation tank causing the yeasts to thrive and produce a Chianti almost unrecognisable for its voluptuous concentration of fruit.’
      • ‘Cool to lukewarm and then trickle the egg and water over the stuffing, mixing it in lightly until the stuffing is moist yet still rather crumbly.’
      • ‘Slowly, she raised her face to Bran, covered with shallow cuts trickling blood.’
      • ‘The inside ceiling was more planks of wood, the outer bark shingles helping to trickle the water off the edges.’
      • ‘A cut curved slightly downward on her left cheek, still trickling minute amounts of blood on the sundress.’
    2. 1.2Come or go slowly or gradually.
      ‘the details began to trickle out’
      • ‘As the clock struck half past five the crowd was slowly trickling in.’
      • ‘Christiane, time is obviously of the essence, and you said aid is trickling in slowly.’
      • ‘Two guards took their positions on either side of the door and opened it as the kingdom's residents began to trickle in slowly.’
      • ‘On the other hand Kildare were handsomely predictable as the early days of 2003 trickled by.’
      • ‘The life slowly trickled away from Kira as her vision began to darken.’
      • ‘And I really went week after week, month after month, before the details of what was going on in that family slowly began to trickle out.’
      • ‘His approach putt went six feet past, and the return trickled by the cup, giving Irwin a half and clinching the cup for the home side.’
      • ‘He put on his basketball uniform and began to loosen his muscles while his teammates slowly trickled in and follow suit.’
      • ‘Ideas spread, trickling any which direction they can.’
      • ‘Second and third periods had trickled by after that, maybe not skipping past as quickly as Sociology had, but not passing in a manner so slow that I could complain.’
      • ‘Lunch break ends and the men slowly trickle back into the room.’
      • ‘As the minutes started to slowly trickle by, Bastian sat in silence and began to wait.’
      • ‘This is the cue for scores of stragglers who slowly trickle into the ground in small groups and squat on the bare ground.’
      • ‘With all of the food eaten, and the time growing late, people began to slowly trickle out of the dining hall, until only a few people were left.’
      • ‘They almost added another a minute later when a pull by Jarlath Sweeney trickled inches wide of the upright.’
      • ‘Along the way there is a slow but steady trickling stream of septuagenarians, slipping their way down to the round stone tower by the beach.’
      • ‘Even with Bishop Belo there to take the mass, the people held back and trickled very slowly into the church.’
      • ‘As we trickle day by day through the end of October and move ever closer to November, the weather is switching to a uniform foggy grey that wakens memories of my time in Lincolnshire back in the very early sixties.’
      • ‘National council decisions aren't usually publicised to members, so this information is only trickling out to members slowly.’
      • ‘They literally shook the ground in which we were standing here, quite loud explosions, and it sounded a long way away from the information that slowly now is trickling to us.’


  • 1A small flow of liquid.

    ‘a trickle of blood’
    • ‘A small trickle of blood flowed from the corner of his mouth down his chin.’
    • ‘In many places, the cast-iron pipes which carry our potable water are so thick with rust that the flow is a mere trickle.’
    • ‘His eyes were glazed with pain, and a thin trickle of blood flowed out of his mouth and down his chin.’
    • ‘The beast shifted; a trickle of blood flowed anew, tracing patterns on the hide.’
    • ‘I collapsed behind a car cradling my head, feeling fresh trickles of blood flow down my face.’
    • ‘Thin trickles of water slowly ran down the sheet of glass.’
    • ‘A faint smile stretched her cracked lips; a trickle of blood suddenly flowed over her parched lips.’
    • ‘He felt the warm trickle of blood dripping from the wound.’
    • ‘His arms were covered in small trickles of blood that flowed from the many burns on his body.’
    • ‘I gasped loudly as I felt the warm trickle of blood flowing from my back.’
    • ‘But it wasn't enough control to stop the trickle of cream-laden coffee from splashing down the front of my shirt.’
    • ‘Combined with ice cubes and a little bit of essence, the trickles of liquid from crushed melons go on to become a sweet delicacy.’
    • ‘She noticed, trailing from the corner of the frozen grimace of his mouth, a trickle of mealy yellow liquid that was drying into a crust on his cheek.’
    • ‘Several small trickles of blood flow down the side of his neck.’
    • ‘The trickle of blood flowed from his nose ever so much more slowly.’
    • ‘A warm trickle began to flow down his leg, either blood or urine.’
    • ‘A small trickle of blood wound its way along his palm, emanating from a fine slice in his skin that was deep enough to have been caused by a razor.’
    • ‘I stand at the counter while the barista lowers the handle on the powerful espresso machine, watching the thin trickle of aromatic liquid.’
    • ‘Her eyes widened as Jesse stood there, small trickles of blood dripping from his clenched hands.’
    • ‘There was a trickle of blood flowing from the corner of her mouth.’
    dribble, drip, thin stream, rivulet, runnel
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A small group or number of people or things moving slowly.
      ‘the traffic had dwindled to a trickle’
      • ‘Fresh new buying migrates in slowly, a trickle at first that may grow into a deluge many years later.’
      • ‘It's something they can't do while being held hostage in their own cities, and the numbers of devout travelers have dropped to a trickle.’
      • ‘Overnight, the torrent of East German refugees drops to a trickle.’
      • ‘In the past two years, the supply of clergy coming out of Canadian seminaries has dwindled to a trickle.’
      • ‘This small trickle of people slowly grew and at the moment there are 11 local women taking part and their numbers continue to grow.’
      • ‘Bit by bit, the trickle of fear was becoming stronger and stronger in Maya's heart.’
      • ‘In the last half-a-year, the number of visitors here has almost doubled while the ‘take’ has dropped to a trickle.’
      • ‘She imagined it encompassing her entire body, and as she did, she felt a familiar trickle of power slowly begin to manifest itself across the surface of her skin.’
      • ‘Since news from the war seems to have dwindled to a trickle, it is an interesting way of keeping track of our troops - and a very personal one too.’
      • ‘The airport ran until the 1980s - the traffic slowly coming down to a trickle.’
      • ‘Radio space slowly trickles out as the Federal Communications Commission frees more of the spectrum for real-world uses.’
      • ‘People were entering in a steady trickle, some of them touching the high stone threshold with their right hands, and raising their hands to their heads.’
      • ‘For years, all was quiet as the Western frontier was slowly settled by a trickle of pioneers.’
      • ‘With rental income dwindling to a mere trickle on many estates in 1880-81, signs of alarm in the Big House were not hard to find.’
      • ‘Other teams slowly followed - more of a trickle than a wave.’
      • ‘Feelings flow in little trickles, slow but steady.’
      • ‘Synthesised melodies swell from ambient trickles into great, lush waves and splash over crisp breakbeats.’
      • ‘Otherwise, immigration from Bulgaria during these years had dwindled to a trickle.’
      • ‘We're taking trickles and bits from what the police tell us.’
      • ‘But even in the best of times, the emerging markets end up bidding for no more than a trickle of global capital flows.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • trickle down

    • (of wealth) gradually benefit the poorest as a result of the increasing wealth of the richest.

      • ‘There is also some debate regarding the benefits of the reforms trickling down to the lowest strata of Indian society.’
      • ‘As we've learned in the last twenty years, wealth may not trickle down very often.’
      • ‘I'm just hoping that performance and cost benefits will trickle down to the consumer more readily.’
      • ‘In many cases, there is little trickle down benefit to the wider population in these countries.’
      • ‘There is no such thing in this country or this world as trickle down wealth.’
      • ‘The trickle down benefits for Scotland's professional and financial services infrastructure has been huge.’
      • ‘The widening gap between rich and poor didn't matter because wealth trickled down.’
      • ‘In other words, if the rich do well, the benefits will trickle down to the rest.’
      • ‘Anything which trickles down wealth from board room to the worker must be applauded, as indeed must any scheme which encourages prudent investing and enables people to save tax.’
      • ‘No longer applicable, then, is the old theory of material benefits trickling down to the poor as the economy flies.’


Middle English (as a verb): imitative.