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From Middle English triklen, likely a rebracketing (e.g. teres strikled > teerys trikled (tears trickled)) of Middle English striklen (to trickle), equivalent to strike +‎ -le.

For other similar cases of incorrect division, see also apron, daffodil, newt, nickname, orange, umpire.


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trickle (plural trickles)

  1. A very thin river.
    The brook had shrunk to a mere trickle.
  2. A very thin flow; the act of trickling.
    The tap of the washbasin in my bedroom is leaking and the trickle drives me mad at night.
    • 1897, James Bryce, Impressions of South Africa:
      The streams that run south and east from the mountains to the coast are short and rapid torrents after a storm, but at other times dwindle to feeble trickles of mud.

Derived terms[edit]



trickle (third-person singular simple present trickles, present participle trickling, simple past and past participle trickled)

Water is trickling down this boy's face.
  1. (transitive) to pour a liquid in a very thin stream, or so that drops fall continuously.
    The doctor trickled some iodine on the wound.
  2. (intransitive) to flow in a very thin stream or drop continuously.
    Here the water just trickles along, but later it becomes a torrent.
    The film was so bad that people trickled out of the cinema before its end.
    • 1897, Bram Stoker, chapter 21, in Dracula, New York, N.Y.: Modern Library, →OCLC:
      Her white night-dress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man's bare chest which was shown by his torn-open dress.
    • 1962 April, J. N. Faulkner, “Summer Saturday at Waterloo”, in Modern Railways, page 265:
      The period of intensive traffic is over by about 5.30 p.m. and for the rest of the evening steadily diminishes, the main activity being the Channel Islands boat trains which trickle in after about 6.30 p.m. and depart again for Weymouth an hour or so later.
  3. (intransitive) To move or roll slowly.
    • 2010 December 29, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0 - 1 Wolverhampton”, in BBC[1]:
      Their only shot of the first period was a long-range strike from top-scorer Ebanks-Blake which trickled tamely wide.

Derived terms[edit]