Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A rivulet; a brook.
  • n. A narrow channel or course, as for water.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a small stream, a rivulet

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rivulet or small brook.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A rivulet or small brook.
  • n. An open channel for a small stream of water or other liquid.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a small stream

Etymologies

Middle English rynel, from Old English, from rinnan, to run; see rei- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
An alteration of an earlier form rinel (from Old English rynel, by assimilation with run, equivalent to run +‎ -el. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Woolf was one of those authors whose "paper rivers" formed the origin of Laing's watery obsessions, and there's an intriguing correspondence between "sources": rooting in "a copse of hazel and stunted oak" to find the indefinite "clammy runnel" of the Ouse, and shuffling among original manuscripts in a bone-dry archive.

    To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface by Olivia Laing – review

  • I moved to his side, my finger tracing one runnel of sweat down his chest.

    My Fair Succubi

  • The “river” itself was more like a sludge channel, and trees hugged at its banks, choking it at impossible angles on either side, looking vaguely as though two armies were facing off with spindly and florid pikes, unsure who would make the first move over the brown, oily runnel between them.

    Excerpt from De Imitatio Calembouri

  • An adventuring pair of swordsman are betting on which runnel of blood will get where first, and have an argument.

    Superhero Prose Fiction: Elak - Elak Of Atlantis

  • It was narrow and empty, and their boots slapped through a runnel of drainage that ran down its middle.

    Behemoth

  • As we progressed we found ourselves climbing down steeper and higher dry waterfalls, most of which provided a fissure, a runnel, a pleat of rock or an overhanging crag that allowed a relatively easy descent.

    Richard Bangs: Climbing the Killer Prince -- Merapi Volcano of Java, Part 2

  • A runnel of blood traveled from her collar where the lion had bitten her, soaking the front of her gown.

    Dark Oracle

  • "That transmission came from within the runnel network, Captain," said Spock.

    Lawnmower Season

  • A bubbling runnel by the side of one of those modern Appian or Flaminian highways is but like a kennel; the little hill is diminished to a hillock — the romantic hillock to a molehill, almost too small for sight.

    Chronicles of the Canongate

  • At intervals, these sunk into deep silence, interrupted only by the plashing noise of a small runnel of water, which partly fell from the rock, partly found a more silent passage to the bottom along its projecting surface.

    A Legend of Montrose

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  • It is as calm as a dream of paradise
    Out there among the trees, where runnels make
    The only music heard above the sway
    Of branches fingering the leaning moon.

    - Raymond Holden, 'Sugaring'.

    September 21, 2009