1 a small wave or series of waves on the surface of water, especially as caused by a slight breeze or an object dropping into it. he dived into the pool leaving barely a ripple. the ripples spread across the pond.
• a thing resembling a ripple or ripples in appearance or movement: the sand undulated and was ridged with ripples.
• a gentle rising and falling sound that spreads through a group of people: a ripple of laughter ran around the room.
• a particular feeling or effect that spreads through someone or something: his words set off a ripple of excitement within her.
• Physics 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.
• [ mass noun ] small periodic, usually undesirable, variations in electrical voltage superposed on a direct voltage or on an alternating voltage of lower frequency. [ as modifier ] : ripple current.
2 [ mass noun ] a type of ice cream with wavy lines of coloured flavoured syrup running through it: a family block of raspberry ripple.
verb [ no obj. ]
(of water) form or flow with small waves on the surface: the Mediterranean rippled and sparkled | (as adj.rippling) : the rippling waters.
• [ with obj. ] cause (the surface of water) to form small waves: a cool wind rippled the surface of the estuary.
• move in a way resembling small waves: [ no obj. ] : fields of grain rippling in the wind.
• [ no obj., with adverbial of direction ] (of a sound or feeling) spread through a person, group, or place: applause rippled around the tables.