AskDefine | Define stream

Dictionary Definition



1 a natural body of running water flowing on or under the earth [syn: watercourse]
2 dominant course (suggestive of running water) of successive events or ideas; "two streams of development run through American history"; "stream of consciousness"; "the flow of thought"; "the current of history" [syn: flow, current]
3 a steady flow (usually from natural causes); "the raft floated downstream on the current"; "he felt a stream of air" [syn: current]
4 the act of flowing or streaming; continuous progression [syn: flow]
5 something that resembles a flowing stream in moving continuously; "a stream of people emptied from the terminal"; "the museum had planned carefully for the flow of visitors" [syn: flow]


1 to extend, wave or float outward, as if in the wind; "their manes streamed like stiff black pennants in the wind"
2 exude profusely; "She was streaming with sweat"; "His nose streamed blood"
3 move in large numbers; "people were pouring out of the theater"; "beggars pullulated in the plaza" [syn: pour, swarm, teem, pullulate]
4 rain heavily; "Put on your rain coat-- it's pouring outside!" [syn: pour, pelt, rain cats and dogs, rain buckets]
5 flow freely and abundantly; "Tears streamed down her face" [syn: well out]

User Contributed Dictionary



From stream.


  • (US)
    • /strim/
    • /strim/
  • Rhymes: -iːm


  1. A small river; a large creek; a body of moving water confined by banks
  2. A thin connected passing of a liquid through a lighter gas (e.g. air)
    He poured the milk in a thin stream from the jug to the glass.
  3. Any steady flow or succession of material, such as water, air, radio signal or words
    Her constant nagging was to him a stream of abuse.
  4. Umbrella term for all moving waters.
  5. A source or repository of data that can be read or written only sequentially.


small river
thin connected passing of a liquid through a lighter gas
Any steady flow or succession of material
* ttbc Hebrew: גיח


  1. To flow in a continuous or steady manner, like a liquid.
  2. To push continuous data (e.g. music) from a server to a client computer while it is being used (played) on the client.


See also

Old English


Common Germanic *straumaz, whence also Old High German stroum, Old Norse straumr


strēam m
  1. stream

West Frisian



Extensive Definition

A stream, brook, beck, burn, creek, crick, kill, lick, rill, syke, bayou, rivulet, or run is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream-banks. Streams are important as conduits in the water cycle, instruments in groundwater recharge, and corridors for fish and wildlife migration. The biological habitat in the immediate vicinity of a stream is called a riparian zone. Given the status of the ongoing Holocene extinction event, streams play an important corridor role in connecting fragmented habitats and thus in conserving biodiversity. Stream is also an umbrella term used in the scientific community for all flowing natural waters, regardless of size. The study of streams and waterways in general is known as surface hydrology and is a core element of environmental geography.

Types of stream

In the United Kingdom, there are several regional names for a stream:
In North America:

Parts of a stream

; Source: The spring from which the stream originates, or other point of origin of a stream.; Confluence: The point at which the two streams merge. If the two tributaries are of approximately equal size, the confluence may be called a fork.; Pool: A segment where the water is deeper and slower moving.; Channel: A depression created by constant erosion, that carries the stream's flow.; Stream bed: The bottom of a stream.; Thalweg: The river's longitudinal section, or the line joining the deepest point in the channel at each stage from source to mouth.; Nickpoint: The point on a stream's profile where a sudden change in stream gradient occurs.; Mouth: The point at which the stream discharges, possibly via an estuary or delta, into a static body of water such as a lake or ocean.

Sources of stream water

Streams typically derive most of their water from precipitation in the form of rain and snow. Most of this water re-enters the atmosphere by evaporation from soil and water bodies, or by the evapotranspiration of plants. Some of the water proceeds to sink into the earth by infiltration and becomes groundwater, much of which eventually enters streams. Some precipitated water is temporarily locked up in snow fields and glaciers, to be released later by evaporation or melting. The rest of the water flows off the land as runoff, the proportion of which varies according to many factors, such as wind, humidity, vegetation, rock types, and relief. This runoff starts as a thin film called sheet wash, combined with a network of tiny rills, together constituting sheet runoff; when this water is concentrated in a channel, a stream has its birth.

Characteristics of streams

; Gradient : The gradient of a stream is a critical factor in determining its character, and is entirely determined by its base level of erosion. The base level of erosion is the point at which the stream either enters the ocean, a lake or pond, or enters a stretch in which it has a much lower gradient, and may be specifically applied to any particular stretch of a stream.
In geologic terms, the stream will erode down through its bed to achieve the base level of erosion throughout its course. If this base level is low, then the stream will rapidly cut through underlying strata and have a steep gradient, and if the base level is relatively high, then the stream will form a flood plain and meanders.
In the United States, an intermittent stream is one that only flows for part of the year and is marked on topographic maps with a line of blue dashes and dots. A wash or desert wash is normally a dry streambed in the deserts of the American Southwest which flows only after significant rainfall. Washes can fill up quickly during rains, and there may be a sudden torrent of water after a thunderstorm begins upstream, such as during monsoonal conditions. These flash floods often catch travellers by surprise. An intermittent stream can also be called an arroyo in Latin America, a winterbourne in Britain, or a wadi in the Arabic-speaking world.
In Italy an intermittent stream is termed a torrent in it torrente. In full flood the stream may or may not be "torrential" in the dramatic sense of the word, but there will be one or more seasons in which the flow is reduced to a trickle or less. Typically torrents have Appenine rather than Alpine sources, and in the summer are fed by little precipitation and no melting snow. In this case the maximum discharge will be during the spring and autumn. However there are also glacial torrents with a different seasonal regime.
A blue-line stream is one which flows for most or all of the year and is marked on topographic maps with a solid blue line. In Australia, an intermittent stream is usually called a creek, and marked on topographic maps with a solid blue line.
Generally, streams that flow only during and immediately after precipitation are termed ephemeral. There is no clear demarkation between surface runoff and ephemeral stream.

Drainage basins

The extent of land basin drained by a stream is termed its drainage basin (also known in North America as the watershed and, in British English, as a catchment). A basin may also be composed of smaller basins. For instance, the Continental Divide in North America divides the mainly easterly-draining Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean basins from the largely westerly-flowing Pacific Ocean basin. The Atlantic Ocean basin, however, may be further subdivided into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico drainages. (This delineation is termed the Eastern Continental Divide.) Similarly, the Gulf of Mexico basin may be divided into the Mississippi River basin and a number of smaller basins, such as the Tombigbee River basin. Continuing in this vein, a component of the Mississippi River basin is the Ohio River basin, which in turn includes the Kentucky River basin, and so forth.


stream in Pennsylvania German: Grick
stream in Czech: Vodní tok
stream in Danish: Å
stream in German: Fließgewässer
stream in Spanish: Arroyo (río)
stream in Esperanto: Rojo
stream in French: Cours d'eau
stream in Italian: Torrente
stream in Hebrew: נחל
stream in Limburgan: Baek (water)
stream in Dutch: Beek (stroom)
stream in Japanese: 渓流
stream in Polish: Potok
stream in Russian: Ручей
stream in Simple English: Stream
stream in Serbian: Поток
stream in Swedish: Vattendrag
stream in Chinese: 溪流

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Brownian movement, X ray, Zeitgeist, abound, abundance, actinic ray, actinism, advance, affluence, afflux, affluxion, air current, ample sufficiency, ampleness, amplitude, angular motion, appear, arise, ascend, ascending, ascent, assemble, atomic beam, atomic ray, avalanche, axial motion, back, back up, backflowing, backing, backward motion, backwash, barrage, beam, beam of light, bearing, beck, become manifest, become visible, bonanza, bountifulness, bountiousness, branch, bristle with, brook, brooklet, budge, bumper crop, bunch, bunch up, burn, caravan, career, cascade, cataract, cavalcade, chain, change, change place, channel, circle, climb, climbing, clot, cluster, collect, column, come, come forth, come forward, come in sight, come out, come to hand, come to light, come together, commute, concourse, condensation trail, confluence, conflux, congregate, contrail, converge, copiousness, copulate, cortege, couple, course, cover ground, crawl with, creek, creep with, crop out, crosscurrent, crowd, current, current of air, date, defluxion, deluge, descend, descending, descent, direction, downdraft, downflow, downpour, downward motion, draft, dress parade, drift, driftage, drizzle, drum, ebb, ebbing, effluence, efflux, effusion, emanate, emerge, enter, exhaust, extravagance, exuberance, exuberate, fade in, fall, fall wind, fare, fare forth, fertility, fetch, file, flight, flit, flock together, flood, flow, flow back, flow in, flow of air, flow out, flow together, flowing, fluency, flush, flux, flyover, foison, following wind, forgather, forward motion, fountain, freshet, full measure, fullness, funeral, fuse, gamma ray, gang, gang around, gang up, gather, gather around, generosity, generousness, get over, geyser, gill, glacial movement, gleam, glide, go, go along, go around, go round, go sideways, great abundance, great plenty, gush, gyrate, head wind, heave in sight, herd together, hie, hive, horde, huddle, indraft, inflow, infrared ray, inhalation, inrush, inspiration, invisible radiation, issue, issue forth, jet, jetstream, katabatic wind, kill, landslide, lavishness, league, leam, liberality, liberalness, line, link, look forth, loom, lots, luxuriance, main current, mainstream, make, march, march past, mass, materialize, maximum, meet, merge, mill, mill run, millrace, mizzle, monsoon, more than enough, motion, motorcade, mount, mounting, move, move along, move on, move over, movement, movement of air, much, mule train, muster, myriad, myriads, numerousness, oblique motion, ongoing, onrush, onward course, opulence, opulency, outcrop, outflow, outpouring, overflow, pack train, parade, pass, passage, patch, patter, peep out, pelt, pencil, photon, pitter-patter, plenitude, plenteousness, plentifulness, plenty, plunge, plunging, pomp, pour, pour with rain, precipitate, prevalence, proceed, procession, prodigality, productiveness, profuseness, profusion, progress, proliferate, promenade, quantities, queue, race, radial motion, radiation, radiorays, rain, rain tadpoles, rally, rally around, random motion, ray, ray of light, reflowing, refluence, reflux, regress, regression, regurgitate, rendezvous, repleteness, repletion, retrogress, retrogression, review, ribbon, ribbon of light, rich harvest, rich vein, richness, rill, riot, riotousness, rise, rising, river, rivulet, roll, roll on, rotate, row, run, run over, runnel, rush, sashay, scads, see the light, seethe, series, set, shift, shoot, show, show up, shower, shower down, sideward motion, sink, sinking, skimmington, slide, slip, soar, soaring, solar rays, spate, spatter, spin, spit, spout, sprinkle, spurt, squirt, sternway, stir, streak, stream forth, stream of air, stream of light, streamer, streamlet, strike the eye, string, subside, subsiding, substantiality, substantialness, succession, superabundance, surge, surge back, swarm, swarm with, swing, tail wind, tattoo, teem, teem with, teemingness, tenor, the general tendency, the main course, throng, tide, time spirit, tone, torrent, train, traject, trajet, travel, trend, tributary, turn up, ultraviolet ray, undercurrent, undertow, unite, updraft, upward motion, vapor trail, violet ray, vortex, wake, walk, wane, wash, water flow, watercourse, waterway, wayfare, wealth, weep, wend, whirl, wind
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