Definition of percolate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpərkəˌlāt/


1 [no object] (Of a liquid or gas) filter gradually through a porous surface or substance: the water percolating through the soil may leach out minerals
More example sentences
  • So those could be living down the cracks underneath the surface but the gasses will still percolate upwards.
  • You also have a natural filtration process as the water will percolate down through the ground and the ground will filter the water naturally.
  • He recently dug a trench that revealed high levels of magnesium and sulfur, suggesting water once percolated through the soil and evaporated leaving salts.
filter, drain, drip, ooze, seep, trickle, dribble, leak, leach
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
More example sentences
  • They did badly, in part, because much of this growth did not percolate into the rural areas.
  • I hope to visit some of these ideas that are now percolating with regard to the worship experiences of today.
  • 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.
spread, be disseminated, filter, pass;
permeate, pervade
2 [no object] (Of coffee) be prepared in a percolator: he put some coffee on to percolate
More example sentences
  • Around the world java percolates and teabags simmer in millions of homes each morning.
  • The kitchen smelled of cookies or whatever my Aunt Renee was finishing up for our desserts, and fresh coffee percolating.
  • In the not too distant future this will be estate agents’ recommended background music while the bread bakes and the coffee percolates.
informal perk
2.1 [with object] Prepare (coffee) in a percolator: (as adjective percolated) freshly percolated coffee
More example sentences
  • He paused as he sniffed the air and glanced over at the coffee pot percolating java on the counter.
  • It promises to produce everything from the waft of freshly baked chocolate cookies to percolating coffee over a personal computer.
  • 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.
2.2US Be or become full of lively activity or excitement: the night was percolating with an expectant energy
More example sentences
  • Despite the fact that tourism countrywide was down as much as 50 percent, the Khumbu still percolated with activity.
  • 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.



Pronunciation: /ˌpərkəˈlāSH(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • Jamaican caves are formed by the percolation, or flow, of the slightly acidic rainfall that twice a year pummels the soluble limestone in which the systems are found.
  • For another example, consider the process of percolation, where a fluid trickles through the mazelike passages of a porous medium.
  • He complained that the planners' arguments in relation to septic tanks and lack of percolation were nothing more than a ‘convenient’ means of refusing permission.


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

  • perk from Late Middle English:

    The origin of perk in to perk up, ‘to become more lively, cheerful, or interesting’, is not wholly clear, though it may be related to perch, as ‘perk’ is an early spelling of ‘perch’. A perk meaning a benefit to which you are entitled because of your job is a shortening of perquisite (Late Middle English), from medieval Latin perquisitum ‘acquisition’. It is found from the early 19th century. People began to perk coffee in a percolator (mid 19th century) around 1920. This is from percolate (early 17th century), which is based on Latin percolare ‘to strain through’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: per·co·late

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